By Jenny Wise
According to the Center for Parent Information & Resources, parents who have recently learned that their child has, or will have, an intellectual or physical disability describe feelings of confusion, devastation, heartbreak, and fear. Reaching out to others, staying positive, dealing with negative feelings, and remembering that your child is your child are all affective coping strategies. Bringing home a baby with a disability might also require some additional parenting steps — preparing your home, obtaining insurance, and saving for additional expenses (including accessibility modifications) will better prepare you, your child, and your family for the future.
Preparing Your Home
When waiting for your child’s arrival, you’ll have the usual preparations to make: buying diapers, clothing, furniture, and various equipment. If you are expecting a baby with a disability, you may need to make extra preparations. Consider if your baby will need specialized medical equipment; will they need a specialized crib or bed? Next, think about what home modifications you may need to make now and in the future. A to-do list can help if you will need extensive changes or renovation. In many cases it takes months, even years before you’ll know what modifications you need. You can start with general tasks to make your home more accessible and safe. For some, this may involve widening doorways, leveling floors, adding or removing carpet, installing grab bars, and creating a safe, usable bathroom. In many cases, it helps to apply for grants to help fund these modifications. There are a variety of organizations that provide assistance for these adaptations, but you can start with The National Resource Center on Supportive Housing and Home Modification to connect you with agencies in your area. You can also reach out to the Center for Family Involvement to find out about Medicaid waivers your loved one might qualify for and how to apply. These waivers can fund adaptions and modifications needed in your home as well as provide respite support and other resources.
Soon, you will be bringing home your child – and it’s one of life’s most precious gifts. By preparing your home, and looking to the future, you will be ready to welcome your baby home. While these tasks may seem overwhelming at first, starting soon can alleviate some of the stress you’re under. Congratulations on your new baby!
***Author Jenny Wise created “Special Home Educator” as a forum for sharing her adventures in homeschooling and connecting with other homeschooling families. She has four children. Her youngest daughter has autism.***