Tips For Parents With Disability – Overcoming The Daily Challenges

tips for disabled parents

For many people with disability, one of the most difficult situations they face is figuring out how to look after their children, while dealing with the limitations that come along with a disability. While there are some tips for parents to help stay on top of things, every day can be difficult. Parenting with disability can be challenging and may lead to feelings of inadequacy, social isolation, and simply frustration while trying to carry out daily tasks for their children that would be easy for others.

Here at St Jude’s, we understand the difficulties that you can face. In an effort to give you a little more confidence in your abilities, we’ve compiled a list of tips for parents with disability that should help you to manage these problems more easily. Everyone deserves to be able to look after their children, and feel like an adequate parent, so we hope this advice will remind you that you are not alone and these challenges can be overcome.

Problems That Parents With Disability Face

Every parent faces challenges as they raise their children, but parents with disability have a variety of extra difficulties that can limit their parenting abilities, leading to frustration and disappointment.

  • Other people may make judgements or assumptions based on the disability – this can also include being criticised more quickly for your parenting
  • You might experience financial problems, as getting employed can be harder for people with disability
  • Depending on your disability, you could struggle with physical restrictions eg.) if you have limited upper body movement it might be hard to hold your child
  • You may have trouble disciplining your child
  • Social isolation can be a problem for parents with disability

Tips To Help Parents With Disability

  1. Communication
    When you are unable to show your child how to do something, or implement discipline in the same way as other parents, then you will have to find other methods. Communication is one of the key tools that any parent with disability will need to utilise. Make sure your children understand why you cannot do some things, and ensure they know that they must follow your instructions to stay safe – instead of following what you are physically doing. Children adapt to a situation very easily, so if they know that you get tired easily, or cannot carry out some physical tasks because you are in a wheelchair, then they will do things differently.
  2. Parenting Support
    If you are a parent with disability, and you are finding things difficult, then the most important thing you need to do is be open and ask for some help. When you are honest with yourself about what your limitations are, then you can organise support for the areas that you need assistance with. Friends and family are obviously your first call, but if they are not an option, then community disability services are available.There are services for supporting the families of parents with a learning disability, and you can get general advice and support from Disability Services Australia. Another type of support you can benefit from is the resources parenting organisations offer that can assist you with developing effective parenting techniques. Many parents who have disability can feel isolated, and so parenting support groups can also be helpful for developing a support network.
  3. Adapted Equipment
    Luckily, there is a variety of adapted equipment that can help parents with a disability manage the tasks they need to complete to raise a child. For instance, if you are in a wheelchair, then there are prams which can attach to a wheelchair, and also wheelchair accessible playpens – which will be invaluable when you have a baby or toddler. When you are baby-proofing your house, you will need to keep in mind that the items need to be accessible for your needs as well, such as a baby safety gate that you can get through – the retractable fabric safety gates are a good option. Keep in mind that you will need to make sure items can be reached by you, but will still need to be out of the baby’s reach.
  4. Focus On What You Can Do
    It is helpful to focus on what you are able to do with your kids. Take advantage of any activities that you can do with them, and then delegate the rest to family members or friends. For instance, if they like being read to, make sure you are always the one to read bedtime stories. Or if you are able to swim, then you can be the person that takes them to the pool. Prioritise these activities, so that when they go off hiking with someone else you will know that you have your own activities. Also, do not limit yourself by just assuming you cannot do something, always check with your therapist or doctor.
  5. Creative Strategies
    One of the things you will have to get used to is coming up with creative – and sometimes strange – strategies for parenting with disability. After a bit, you will understand what areas are difficult, and figure out interesting ways to fix these problems – remember to think outside the box! For instance, one visually impaired parent put bells on their children’s shoes when they were out, and another person found that changing nappies on the floor was much easier than using a changing table. Do not be afraid to do things differently, so that you can carry out tasks that you would have otherwise needed someone else’s help for.

How Disability Services Can Help Parents With Disability

The most important thing for you to understand is that you are not alone on this journey. There are reliable disability service providers in Perth who are here to help you through any difficulties. St Jude’s has over 38 years of experience providing specialist disability services to people with disability across the region.

Our services are flexible and tailored to your needs, and we can help you apply for NDIS funding if you are not a participant yet. We offer mental health, physical and intellectual disability services that will help you achieve your goals and complete daily tasks – so that you can carry out all of the parenting duties that you need and enjoy time with your child. Contact us today to find out more.