If you’re expecting a child with a disability, you’ll have some additional parenting challenges to overcome that many other parents don’t have to deal with. It’s a good idea to start preparations now, to ensure your home is accessible, your mental health is resilient, and your financials are stable. This can also help ease some of the anxiety you may be feeling about raising a child with special needs. Here are some quick tips to get your preparations started.
Modify Your Home
If your child has a physical disability, consider modifying your home for greater safety, mobility, and comfort. Start by replacing your entrance stairs with a ramp and widening your doorways to accommodate mobility aids. In the bathroom, grab bars can help increase your child’s independence and keep them safe from slips or falls. If you anticipate that your child will be in a wheelchair, consider saving up some money to install a roll-in shower in the future.
For children with mental disabilities, some additional alterations to your house may be needed. Children Down Syndrome are prone to bolting and wandering, so it’s important to secure your home with locks and an alarm system that will alert you if windows or doors are opened. Children with mental disabilities often require very specific sensory environments, so try to tone down any stimulating paint colors, wall décor, and lighting. Additionally, set up organizational systems so that household clutter is stored neatly and out of sight.
Make a Financial Plan
Depending on your child’s disability, they may require a personal care team, expensive equipment, or special education. Think about how you plan to handle these additional expenses. To start, get familiar with the various special needs funding organizations available and find out if you’re eligible to receive assistance from any of them. Then, look into your insurance options, such as Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program, a child-only health insurance plan, and a Health Savings Account. According to NerdWallet, you can also get tax deductions for some of your medical expenses and childcare costs. Finally, consider purchasing insurance so you know your kid will be cared for after you’re gone. This might include life insurance or burial insurance, the latter of which can cover specific end-of-life financial concerns such as lingering medical bills or the costs associated with a funeral.
Find a Special Needs Babysitter
It may seem a bit early to start searching for a babysitter right now. However, since it can be difficult to find a babysitter who is qualified in special needs care, you’ll need to put some extra time into this. You don’t want to be left scrambling to find someone to watch your child when you’re faced with an emergency or you’re craving just a few hours alone to yourself. To learn more about finding a qualified and dependable babysitter for your child with special needs, check out this guide by Local Babysitter.
Develop a Self-Care Routine
There’s no doubt that caring for a special needs child is stressful, so make sure you find time to take care of yourself as well. ParentMap recommends carving out at least 15 minutes each day to do something calming that you enjoy. It’s also important to exercise so you can stay energized and reduce daily stress. It can be difficult to find the time for these self-care actions when you’re a parent to a special needs child, so try to develop a support network of people who can help you out. Your spouse, parents, siblings, close friends, or a trusted babysitter can help you get some regular “me” time. Additionally, if you’re feeling overwhelmed with conflicting emotions over your child’s diagnosis, connecting with other parents of disabled children can help you feel much less alone. You’ll be able to find many support groups online where you can express your concerns or seek advice from others in your position.
No one is ready to hear that their child has a disability. This kind of diagnosis comes with many unknowns, causing fear, anxiety, and sadness to expectant parents. One of the best things you can do to set your mind at ease is learn as much as possible about your child’s diagnosis so you feel better prepared to handle the upcoming challenges in your life.
Ed Carter uses his financial abilities to help people with disabilities plan ahead, as physical and mental disabilities often cause stress and confusion when it comes to financial planning. Learn more at AbleFutures.org