Thursday, May 31, 2018

"A new baby is like the beginning of all things-wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities." Eda J. LeShan

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Throughout my 37 years in the classroom, I enjoyed working with many students who had special needs.  Since retiring and writing my weekly blog about various facets of Education, I have covered a multitude of topics.  This week, I am using my blog to advance a friend's cause. Having a new baby is a cause for celebration - and for stress!  What if you, the parent, have a disability?  How will your disability affect your ability to care for your child?  Ashley Taylor is giving you advice in this week's post. 

Author Ashley Taylor is a freelance writer, photographer, and advocate for people with disabilities. She created to provide information and resources to other parents with disabilities. When she isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children. I am pleased to offer Ashley's article this week, as she reaches out to parents with disabilities to help them prepare to welcome a new baby.  

Tips for New Parents that Have Disabilities
by Ashley Taylor 

Persons with a disability learn to adapt their environment and life so that they can thrive. Disability is also rarely a static condition; there are good days and not-so-good ones, new challenges and triumphs, and changes in your life that require new techniques. Parenting, either as a new parent or a recently-disabled pro mom or dad, can throw a lot at you at once. And then again and in many ways, as the child develops. It’s very much the same for non-disabled parents. Here are some tips to lessen the challenge and to prepare your life and home for parenthood. 

You’re not alone . . . not by a longshot

Rest assured that many others have successfully raised children in spite of disabilities. In a survey of US children, one in ten stated that they have a parent who is disabled. It’s likely, therefore, that someone, somewhere has been in your place. Use others as inspiration and as a resource. Read about their experiences and connect with those who act as mentors through support groups and social services providers. Use their example as confidence that you can handle any parenting hurdle.

Impact of disability on parenting

Although the numbers of parents with disabilities are significant, there are, of course, many different types of disabilities. Your challenges will be unique, but if you’ve been living with your disability for your entire life, you will know best your limitations. When speaking to other disabled parents, ask what modifications they employed to ease baby care, for example, and combine that information with your coping tactics.

Prepare yourself

The first step for a new or expecting parent is to talk with a doctor. Speaking with a health care provider is especially important for an expecting mother as there may be limitations that can impact pregnancy, but in any event, the consultation can be the basis for a plan. Discuss medications, and seek referrals for social services providers who can provide you with support resources. And when you become a parent, you may need to add your own care into your plan.

This need for self-care is not unique to parenting with a disability, as parents often neglect their well-being during parenting - especially in the baby years. Studies show that on average new moms only have 17 minutes of free time each day. Still, if that’s all you have, put those 17 minutes to work for your benefit to reduce stress. Some self-care tips include:

-       Scheduling time with a friend. All too often, parents shut off personal relationships when overwhelmed by their baby.
-       Creating goals for yourself. Thinking beyond the daily tasks in front of you gives you a broader view of life.
-       Meditating. Even just a short moment of quiet can bring focus and calm to your busy day.
-       Getting fresh air. If the season and your mobility allow, try to change up your environment. Go to a park or just around the block to break up the monotony.

Prepare your home

And while you are getting yourself ready to be a parent, make sure that your home is prepared for the baby and your role as a parent as well. Since your disability is unique, no list can comprehensively cover all of the required home accommodations. However, here are some common alterations and preparations that work for different disabilities.

-       Make sure hallways and entrances are clear and well-lit.
-       If you do not have ramp access, but need it, take care of that first.
-       Use accessible cabinets and handles.
-       Explore different parenting products designed for parents with disabilities, such as swivel base car seats, and side opening cribs.

Through a combination of planning, reaching out to support services and people who’ve shared your struggles, and preparing yourself and your home, you can minimize potential problems and overcome the hurdles of parenting.


Ashley Taylor is a freelance writer, photographer, and advocate for people with disabilities. She created to provide information and resources to other parents with disabilities. When she isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. 

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I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books.  Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self.  However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired! 

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