5 Tips for Preparing Your Home and Life for a Child With a Disability

5 Tips for Preparing Your Home and Life for a Child With a Disability

When you decided to have a baby, you may have envisioned buying a crib, setting up a play area, and sorting through mountains of advice on the internet about how to sleep train your child. Preparing for anything out of the norm likely didn't cross your mind.


Now that you've learned that your child will be born with a physical or mental disability, it's time to educate yourself about making your home a safe place for your baby and getting him or her the medical care necessary for a happy, healthy life.


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1. Learn About Your Child's Disability

The term disability can be applied to hundreds of diagnoses, but your child will be unique — and the way the disability affects his or her life should be considered. Learn as much as you can before your child is born, ask questions of your doctor or perinatologist, and consider getting in touch with others in your area to gain wisdom from parents who have been down this road before.


2. Determine Any Home Modifications You Can Make Now

While an infant may not need anything except medical treatment, your older child may have trouble navigating a conventional home. If your current home doesn't fit the bill, consider moving. Look for homes in neighborhoods you like with good school systems that will be accommodating of your child (if necessary). Check online listings to find the right number of bathrooms, bedrooms, and more before you tour the places in person.


3. Look for Answers to Insurance Questions

According to the Affordable Care Act, if your employer has 50 or more full-time employees, they're legally required to offer you a health insurance plan. Your plan may include paid parental leave, days that you can use to care for family members, and several in-network benefits that you could use to help your child with his or her disability care.


4. Keep Up With Your Own Physical and Mental Health

You may feel worried, scared, or emotionally exhausted when preparing for your child. Make sure to take care of yourself in this process as well. It's normal to feel guilty or even angry when parenting a child with special needs. This doesn't mean that you don't love your child. Engage in self-care that you enjoy every day, don't neglect your basic needs like healthy food and sleep, and seek out professional mental health counseling if your feelings overwhelm you.


5. Budget for Additional Expenses

Depending on what your child's disability is, there may be hefty expenses coming up in the future. You may need to think about renovating your home, installing or building accessibility measures such as ramps and grab bars, or planning for physical or occupational therapy sessions. If you're not sure what to include in your budget, consider meeting with a parent of a child with a similar disability to ask what you may need to think ahead for. And whenever purchasing products for your family, read in-depth reviews to determine their safety and quality.


Having a child with a mental or physical disability can be a major source of stress for new parents, and it's often easy to forget to enjoy the small moments with your little one when there are so many big, anxiety-provoking unknowns to take into account. Learn as much as you can now to support your decisions after your child's birth and throughout his or her life.