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Preparing for a child with a mental or physical disability

Originally written by: Emily Graham

There are countless challenges to be faced as a parent and many things to consider. When you are pregnant with a child that will have a mental or physical disability, there will be situations that you will not have anticipated. Thankfully, with preparation and plenty of planning, you can handle anything that comes your way.

Preparing the Home

Readying your home for your baby is the most important thing you can do as an expectant parent. If your home is not suitable for your newborn’s disability, you will either have to adapt your current environment or consider a move to a more modifiable house. Start your search online for accessible homes in your area. The prices vary, but the average listing price for one in Caldwell, Idaho, is $221,000. If you can modify your existing home, the adjustments necessary will depend on your child’s disability.

For example, if they will be wheelchair-bound, add grab bars and handrails in bathrooms and other places, as well as create sufficient space throughout the home. A little one with visual impairment will benefit from non-skid rugs and textured surfaces. There are many modifications that can be made to the home, and for the best outline of what is needed, consult with specialists.

Financial Considerations

Becoming a parent requires a lot of energy and investment. Some important things are not easy to think about, such as insurance. There are numerous questions you should ask. Will my child qualify for health insurance? What is the best life insurance policy for me? Lifelong care will require lifelong financial support. It may be prudent to create a special-needs trust you can add insurance policies and plans to as beneficiaries. Consider adding co-trustees who can assist in managing the trust over the long-term.

When it comes to healthcare, complement your coverage with Medicaid, as your child may be eligible regardless of your earnings. Plan for additional expenses, from basics such as food and clothing to costs specific to your little one’s disability. A monthly budget may help, as it can allow you to examine day-to-day expenses and make adjustments. Additionally, find out what government aid you are entitled to, as things like schooling can be subsidized.

Practice Self-Care

As the parent of a child with a disability, there’s plenty to take your attention away from your own needs. You may feel guilty about giving yourself moments of rest. However, allowing yourself to recharge, both mentally and physically, can help you be at your best for your newborn. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Allow your partner, relatives, and friends to lessen some of the strain. Let them do chores or help out with errands. Spend a little time by yourself. Indulge passions, whether that’s watching your favorite program or knitting. Explore things that give you joy and, if possible, introduce your little one to them over time. If you find that the situation is becoming overwhelming, seek counseling, either by yourself or with your significant other. Support groups can be another source of strength, as their insights and experiences can help everything feel less daunting.

Don’t Compare

Every family is different. Both the accomplishments and challenges that you face as a parent will be unique. Avoid comparing yourself to other families. How another copes with a specific situation, or how their children reach certain milestones, may not be applicable to you. Comparing yourself to others can lead to unrealistic expectations. This can create a cycle of blame and frustration that can be emotionally draining, especially when expectations are not met.

Be compassionate with yourself, and work through whatever challenges you face at a pace that is comfortable for the whole family. By having this mindset, your family can recognize its strengths and achievements and celebrate them within the context of your family’s uniqueness.

Parenthood is full of stress. Becoming a parent of a child with a disability will have its difficulties, but it also offers wonderfully unique rewards, too. This may be an uncertain time, but with the right preparation, you can give your child a happy and safe life.

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