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Setting Up at Home for Children with Disabilities

Setting Up at Home for Children with Disabilities
January 26, 2018 Christopher Woo

Setting Up at Home for Children with Disabilities

Written by Guest Blogger Paul Denikin

As the parent of a child with a disability you have a lot on your plate.  Life is a challenge and at times can be overwhelming.  However with some modifications at home, you can simplify daily living for you and your child. 

The first step toward modifying your home will be in assessing the needs of your child and considering how your home can better meet those needs.  Evaluate your home with the following criteria:

  • Is a ramp or lift necessary or do you expect to need a ramp in the future?
  • Do entryways need to be widened and is at least one fully accessible? Will you need to address uneven pavement, alleys, stairwells, etc., for the home’s entry?  Do doorways within the home need to be widened?
  • Will countertops and sinks require lowering?
  • Do hallways and areas between rooms allow enough space for wheelchair accessibility?
  • Will the bathroom need to be enlarged? Do you need grab bars installed? 

Installing a walk in or roll in shower, railings, ramps and widened door frames can make a tremendous difference in how you and your child live.  According to some experts, most homeowners spend between $1,604 and $14,168 nationally for accessibility modifications.  There are many programs offering financial assistance.  Check with your Rural Economic Development Office, local housing authority, and with social services organizations for options available to you.

Disabled World suggests deciding what changes require immediate attention, then focusing on making additional changes gradually.  Be aware that if you are purchasing a new home more appropriate for your situation, oftentimes houses that are listed for sale as “accessible” may not meet your needs.  Sometimes homes can be advertised as accessible with minimal accessibility or with potential for accessibility. 

Should you elect to modify an existing home, remember there are some relatively simple ways to make life easier for you and your child.  Be creative in your problem solving.  For example, the experts at National Ag Safety Database recommend being innovative when storing dishes and utensils so they are easier to manage for those with accessibility issues.  Doors in front of sinks can be removed to access sinks from wheelchairs; in that case, you would want to insulate pipes to prevent burning your child’s legs when working at the sink.  Doorbells and phones can offer lights and sounds to alert sensory limited individuals.  Those with limited vision can benefit from additional lighting, including nightlights and lit light switches. 

Depending on age and abilities, you may decide the bedroom is especially important to your child.  According to some experts, if your child lives with physical disabilities there are several ways to improve the safety and comfort of the bedroom.  Here are some ideas:

  • Install long, low, narrow shelves which are easy to access.
  • Replace knobs and pulls with levers.
  • Lower light switches or install a motion sensor for children who can’t reach them.
  • Ensure tables, nightstands and other work surfaces are at an accessible height.
  • Consider the direction the door on the bedroom and closet doors open and how they might impede a wheelchair or other accessibility devices.

When making modifications, remember to take into account your child’s future needs.  For example, some experts note that a child may need more space in the bathroom later on, or you might require a room dedicated to physical therapy.  You may need to discuss your modifications with a healthcare professional to ensure you are addressing important concerns. 

As you develop a game plan you’ll be more confident about life for you and your child.  Make a thorough evaluation of your home and your child’s needs.  Once you know what modifications you intend to make, ensure you are meeting existing needs right away, but plan for future needs as well.  Be creative and make simple changes where you can.  You and your child will find comfort and safety through thoughtful modifications. 

Image courtesy of Pixabay

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