Planning For A Child With A Disability… Photo credit by Pixabay

Having a child with a disability can be scary. You may feel overwhelmed by what to expect and how to care for her, but proper planning can help you feel confident.

Preparing Your Home

First, you’ll need to prepare your home. Start with traditional baby-proofing to ensure your child’s safety. This can include:

  • Covering all outlets with plug covers.
  • Putting guardrails on your windows.
  • Adding baby gates in areas you don’t want your child to access.
  • Maintaining functional smoke alarms throughout your home.

Here are more ideas for childproofing your home from Babycenter.com.

You may be considering making a large renovation to make your home handicap accessible. You have time to save up for a bigger renovation as your child grows, but for now, you can make your home more accessible without spending a lot of money. Here are some affordable modifications:

  • Install grab bars in your bathroom.
  • Add a threshold ramp in your front doorway.
  • Use swing-away hinges to widen doorways.
  • Use non-slip floor coverings to prevent slipping.
  • Remove rocks and obstructions that make your yard difficult to navigate.

These small touches will go a long way as you continue to prep for all your child’s needs.

Finances, Insurance, and Benefits

If you have a baby with a disability, your finances are important whether that disability is mental or physical.  Let’s review some key things you should know.

Planning Your Finances

 Your child may incur expenses you hadn’t considered before, such as medical expenses for surgeries or devices, equipment like a handicap-accessible van, physical and/or occupational therapy, special doctors, etc. Additionally, your child may need care for their entire lives. Learn what you need to do at different ages for your child from The Simple Dollar.

To plan for her future, one of the most important things you can do is set up a special-needs trust. Learn the ins and outs of setting one up in this article from U.S. News.

Insurance

Obviously, you’re still going to need to be well-insured, but that doesn’t mean your insurance company will sign off on every medical or therapeutic requirement your child needs. When full coverage and benefits fall short, try these strategies from Care.com to advocate for your child’s care.

Benefits

Some children with a disability may qualify for Medicaid or Social Security benefits regardless of your income level; for others, there may be a threshold. Here is where to find information on whether your child is eligible for aid:

  • The “Benefits For Children With Disabilities” guide from the Social Security Administration.
  • The Medicaid Eligibility page.
  • Learn about more government programs for your child at The Special Needs Alliance.

As you can see, it’s important to create a comprehensive plan to be prepared for your child’s needs.

The Importance of Your Self-Care

One of the most challenging aspects of raising a child with a disability can be the toll it takes on you.  Stress and anxiety can run high. It’s important to begin a self-care regimen as soon as you can. This includes:

  • Maintaining your health. Eat as well as you can – if you are breastfeeding, you probably are! See your doctor regularly and ask him if you can exercise or take supplements.
  • Join a support group. Visit local disability organizations to find other parents who can relate to your family’s experiences.
  • Find your me-time. It takes a while for new parents to find “spare” time, but even 5 minutes a day of downtime can help.
  • Work on your marriage. Divorce rates are very high for couples with a disabled child. Make time for each other, because your child is stronger with a united team behind her!
  • Seek help. If you are feeling overwhelmed, it may be due to postpartum depression or another mental health issue. Never be afraid to reach out – your child needs you to be mentally healthy!

Raising a child with a disability can be challenging, but with proper planning, resources, and support, you can have a lifetime of joy with your precious child.

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