Preparing for Parenting a Child with a DisabilityWhen you are an expecting parent, life can be filled with a combination of excitement, anticipation, stress and fear. When you’re expecting a child with a mental or physical disability, you have the same feelings, but it can also be trepidatious of the challenges that you will have to face. With some planning, organization and reaching out to support resources, you can create a home environment for your child to thrive. Here is how to get your home and life ready for your bundle of joy.

Begin with a plan

Discuss with your doctor the specifics of the your child’s disability. If you are unfamiliar with raising a disabled child, your physician will likely provide you with access to resources. Take advantage of every outlet for assistance that is available and get informed before you start making decisions that will affect your life and the your baby’s life. Depending on the nature of the disability, you may have to arrange for additional care or modifications to your home. You should plan ahead, even if the need for these supportive measures will not be until some future time, such as when your child is a toddler or older. Create a plan that anticipates and deals with their needs.

Planning for raising a special needs child goes beyond medical discussions, however. There are complicated financial and legal arrangements that can help ensure that your child obtains available benefits while also creating security in the event of your passing. A life insurance policy combined with a special needs trust is often used to provide for a disabled child.

The expenses of raising a special needs child are great. Adaptive wheelchairs can cost over $10,000. Hospital stays can easily reach $10,000 a day, and reports indicate that the lifetime medical expense for a child with autism can amount to over $2 million.

Government assistance is available to help families provide for their children with special needs, but in the event of the death of the child’s parents, who will arrange for these benefits and ensure that the child is cared for? Speaking to an attorney to address some simple estate planning decisions can help alleviate these concerns. It’s never too soon to prepare for the unknown.

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Prepare you home

Based on the specifics of your child’s needs, which you will discuss with your physician, you can begin to prepare your home for their arrival. Infants might not require much in the way of accessibility adaptation, but you can anticipate their growth cycles and prepare accordingly. As a child becomes more mobile in toddler years, you may need to ensure that there are grab bars or other modifications to help ensure that your child learns to get around.

There are numerous other home accessibility modifications that are available. Certified specialist contractors in this area can work with your child’s care team to identify modifications that may be necessary. Your plan to prepare your home should be flexible and open to change as your child develops.

You may also want to explore the benefits of a service dog for your home and your child. Dogs can provide countless benefits to children who are dealing with physical and mental disabilities. You can research online resources for assistance dogs in your area. 

Preparing for Parenting a Child with a DisabilityCaring for yourself

Many parents neglect their own well-being in their pursuit to care for their babies. As a parent of a special needs child, your need for self-care and assurance may be more than usual because of the stress and work required. Make sure that you reach out to support resources not only to help your child, but to also provide a helping hand for you. One excellent source for information and help is other parents who are going through the same struggles or have been through the same challenges.

Expecting parents are often nervous and excited about the future. As an expectant parent of a special needs child, you share their nervousness and likely add a layer of your own fears. However, with planning and by taking advantage of resources, you can focus on the excitement and joy of your new addition.

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Guest Author

Emily Graham is the creator of mightymoms.net. She believes being a mom is one of the hardest jobs around and wanted to create a support system for moms from all walks of life. On her site, she offers a wide range of info tailored for busy moms — from how to reduce stress to creative ways to spend time together as a family.

Bonnie Landau
Bonnie Landau
Bonnie Landau is a special education advocate and educational consultant in Ventura County, California. Her goal is to help parents find strategies and solutions to help their children succeed in school and in life. Bonnie is the author of Special Ed Mom Survival Guide: How to Prevail in the Special Education Process and Find Life-long Strategies for You and Your Child.