Adults with disabilities have a right to the same lives and relationships as anyone else. That includes the ability to become a parent. However, few parenting resources discuss the realities of being a parent with a disability. Below, we explore some of the challenges and considerations that come with parenting with a disability. You can still be a loving, attentive parent, no matter what your disability(ies) look like.
Can You Still Be a Parent With a Disability?
You absolutely can still be a parent with a disability! In fact, adults with disabilities experience pregnancy at roughly the same rate as those without disabilities.
Having a disability can mean it might be hard to do some things by yourself. It may take you more time than others to learn new things or complete tasks. But that’s okay! Parents with disabilities can still be great parents.
What makes you a great parent is how you handle challenges that come your way, not whether you face them in the first place.
Parenting with a Disability: Challenges to Consider
It’s entirely possible to be a parent with a disability. But there are some specific obstacles you may be more likely to face than other parents.
- Physical Limitations. For some parents, mobility and the ability to physically interact with children are limited. This can complicate things like infant care, feeding, and supervising your child.
- Specific Healthcare Needs. You may need extra time when visiting the doctor, accessible resources, and other tools to make parenting and childbirth easier.
- Child Welfare. In some cases, state and local child welfare agencies may question a parent’s ability to protect and care for their child. This can understandably be a huge stressor for parents with disabilities. However, it’s important to note that these agencies cannot discriminate against parents based on disability.
NeuroNav’s Tips for Parents with Disabilities
At NeuroNav, we’re passionate about offering digestible and useful information to adults and families with disabilities. Based on current research and expert advice, we’ve compiled some of our favorite parenting tips for adults with disabilities.
Create Adaptive Parenting Techniques for Your Needs
Adaptive parenting techniques are just what they sound like. They’re parenting strategies that have been adapted to consider your disability(ies) or needs. You might need to think outside the box as a parent with a disability. How you get things done might look very different from how others do.
Some examples of changes you can make include:
- Storing childcare equipment and supplies (diapers, pacifiers, blankets, etc.) in strategic locations you can access.
- Installing accessible kitchen and household appliances.
- Investing in accessible cribs, toddler beds, etc., for your child.
- Using alternative methods to dress, bathe, and feed your child. You might, for instance, bathe your child in a large sink instead of a deep tub.
- Using assistive technology to communicate and learn.
Find Your People
Support, advice, and information are all crucial for new parents. Find communities of other parents with disabilities to learn from their experiences. These groups are also wonderful ways to meet new people and get the advice you need.
While some in-person options may exist, it’s usually easier to find support from other parents with disabilities online (via Facebook groups, national disability organizations or forums, etc.)
Consider Your Options for Support
They say it takes a village to raise a child for a reason. No parent can navigate childcare entirely on their own. It’s okay to ask for help – in fact, it likely makes you an even better parent.
Plan for the support you might need during and after pregnancy so that you can focus on being the best parent you can in the moment. Many parents with disabilities need to access physical support, whether from a partner, family member, or a hired assistant.
You Don’t Have to Navigate These Challenges Alone
If you’re a parent with a disability or want to become a parent, remember that you are not alone. Even though parenthood can be a stressful and intense experience, it’s one that millions of others share with you.
Plus, there are many resources available to help parents with disabilities access support and manage their needs. If you’re a California resident, you can become a California Regional Center client (if you have a developmental disability that originated before the age of 18 and is likely to continue indefinitely).
Once you do, you can participate in California’s Self-Determination Program, which is designed to help adults with disabilities connect with the resources and services they need to thrive.
Here at NeuroNav, we work with individuals with disabilities and their support systems to outline goals and take steps toward them. To learn more about how we can help you take advantage of the Self-Determination Program, contact us today for a free consultation.
Not located in California? No problem. Feel free to browse the rest of our disability resources for more insight that can help make life easier.