An estimated 13 percent of Americans currently live with some form of a disability. This includes genetic conditions, lifelong disabilities from birth, or disabilities that were acquired later in life. Regardless, many people who have been diagnosed with a disability are still able to lead happy, healthy lives. That includes achieving the dream of parenthood.
Family planning might seem daunting at first, even to parents who aren’t disabled. If you live with a disability, you might wonder whether it’s safe for you to have children. You might be unsure whether modifications to your home or to your nursery might make parenting easier and safer for yourself and your baby. If your condition is inherited, you might also worry about passing a disability onto your unborn child.
If this sounds familiar, pause. Take a deep breath. Know that people with disabilities are raising children each day. There are resources to help you determine whether parenthood is possible for you. Here are a few pieces of advice for parenting with a disability:
Special planning may be required for genetic conditions or disabilities that might limit fertility. If you have a condition like Down's syndrome or a compromised immune system, for instance, you may want to discuss your options with your doctor as well as your spouse or partner (if you have one).
Fertility treatments, adoption and surrogacy are also options for those who have conditions that limit their fertility or their ability to safely and successfully carry a healthy baby to term. Of course, parenthood is a deeply personal decision that nobody can make for you. It’s crucial to discuss all risks, benefits, and options with your doctor(s) and spouse or partner. Together, you can make the best possible choice for your family.
Home modifications help make parenting more accessible for those with disabilities. When preparing to welcome a new baby into your home, the same general home safety rules apply to all parents. Whether disabled or not, any parent is responsible for prioritizing the protection of his or her family. This includes installing and properly testing smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home. Already have these devices installed? Be sure to regularly perform tests to ensure they have working batteries.
Other safety considerations might include installing easily-accessible fire extinguishers in convenient, central locations of your home. You might also consider securing any large pieces of furniture, such as the baby’s crib or even your television. This will make your home safer for yourself and your baby by preventing slips, rolls, or injuries.
Although disabled parents will need to make many of the same home modifications and preparations as able-bodied parents, there are some special considerations you may need to take for your unique condition or disability. For instance, there are wheelchair-accessible baby cribs and baby carriers that allow you to participate in many of the crucial bonding moments that other parents experience with their infants. Meanwhile, visually impaired parents can use bells or other auditory devices to track the movements and location of their children.
As mentioned, there are many excellent resources available these days to support disabled parents with family planning and parenthood. Here are some excellent resources for disabled parents:
- DisabledParents.net (arguably one of the best resources for parents with disabilities)
- DisabledParenting.com (self-described as an “online community by and for parents and prospective parents with disabilities”)
- LookingGlass.org (serving families in the US where a child, parent, or grandparent has a disability)
When it comes to financially preparing for the costs of pregnancy, childbirth, home modifications, and raising children, here is a list of excellent resources and advice.
People of all backgrounds and abilities are able to succeed as excellent parents. Although parenthood is not easy and is a lifelong job, if you dream of having children, then you may want to discuss your options with your medical care provider. By following the advice listed in this article, you’ll have an easier time preparing your life and your home for parenthood even with a disability.
Blog by Jenny www.specialhomeeducator.com