Parenting is never easy, but having long term illness or disabilty can make it even more challenging. This inspirational couple have used their own experiences to help others in their position.
Ashley Taylor is a disabled mother of two wonderful, amazing, energetic children. She met her husband, Tom, while doing physical therapy. Tom had suffered a spinal cord injury due to a car accident and uses a wheelchair for mobility. Ashley and Tom knew they wanted children and knew they would have to adapt their lives and home in order to make this dream come true. Ashley is happy to say that they are the proud parents of two healthy, wonderful children and their disabilities haven’t stopped them from leading a happy, fulfilling life. She created DisabledParents.org to provide information and resources to other parents with disabilities.
Having a disability doesn’t mean you need to live your life with limitations — that includes the desire to have children. Rather, it’s about making the necessary modifications to your home and lifestyle in order to create a safe and stress-free environment for you and your family. With careful planning and being aware of available resources, raising a child while taking care of your health doesn’t have to feel like an overwhelming experience.
Make Home Modifications
Modifying your home to meet the needs of an ability as well as a child can be expensive, but there are plenty of grants available that can help fund crucial changes. Many resources specialize in everything from vertical stair lifts and wheelchair ramps to bed and bathroom safety bars to speciality doorknobs and handles. These modifications are crucial for the safety and mental health of the disabled parent, as well as any children living under the same roof. Note that if you rent versus own, it’s the responsibility of the landlord (by law) to make the necessary modifications to your residence.
Clutter equates to stress and confusion, neither of which you need as a new parent with a disability. Make it a point to do inventory and organize your home before the child comes into the equation — instituting help if need be. There are specialists that can assist in areas of sorting, organization and personal planning.
Don’t be too proud to ask for help. Look into personal assistance services (PAS), a support group for more than 13.2 million people with disabilities. PAS supporters help with everything from eating and bathing to shopping, cooking, and cleaning. Family, friends, and neighbors likely fall into an unpaid category, while formal services are typically handled by public funding, private insurance, or out-of pocket-costs. Again, utilizing free resources (outside of family and friends) should not be overlooked; it’s your right by law to receive assistance.
Self-Care To Manage Stress And Depression
Having a disability comes with its share of stress — as does being a new parent figuring out the ropes. Combine the two and you have the potential for an overwhelming situation that can lead to depression. Despite the laundry list of responsibilities you have on your plate, self-care should be a priority to cope with stress. This includes maintaining hobbies, interests, and friendships; delegating tasks; maintaining physical fitness; and acceptance — nobody is perfect. source
There are also several free resources available to parents with disabilities that offer a comprehensive overview of qualified community organizations, social service agencies, and healthcare providers.
Keep Emergency Numbers On Hand
You shouldn’t have to wait for a crisis before figuring out where you can obtain aid. Every parent should keep a list of go-to numbers to deal with situations such as accidental poisoning, childcare advice, depression, medical assistance, natural disasters, and more.
Utilize Available Resources
From transportation and employment assistance to educational and recreational opportunities, there are many resources available if you have a disability. It’s your right to receive such assistance, so don’t be afraid to utilize it. If you’re not sure where to start, ask your doctor or other medical advisor for credible resources in your area. source
Perhaps the most important message to understand as a parent with a disability is that there are several resources available to help you out that don’t include friends and family — thought it’s great if you have that network, too. Living your best personal life while being a parent and role model at the same time is a true reality. Remember that being a parent is among one of the best gifts in life, so practice acts of gratitude when you’re feeling overwhelmed. source
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