Having a baby is one of life’s greatest gifts, but the experience certainly comes with its share of challenges — even more so if you’re expecting a child with a mental or physical disability. Statistics indicate that 3 percent of all babies born in the US each year are disabled. While that may seem like a small number, such a condition can have a big impact on the entire family from both a lifestyle and financial perspective. Here’s what to expect if you’re expecting a child with a disability so you can appropriately plan for the future.
While home modifications depend upon the specific type of disability, the best environment is one that’s hazard-free environment and easily accessible. There are several sources of funding, such as grants and government assistance, if you can’t finance the changes on your own. Here are some key adjustments to consider.
● Keep your home free from clutter.
● Replace flooring with low-pile carpeting or a non-skid variety.
● Install a wheelchair ramp to get in and out of the home with ease.
● Keep your child’s bedroom (and bathroom) on the ground floor.
● Install grab bars in the shower and near the toilet.
● Add flexible hinges to doors to widen access for a wheelchair.
● Keep their bed low to the floor to prevent a fall (after the baby stage).
● Use lever or automatic door handles.
● Place signs with symbols on various household items.
If your current home isn't suitable for a child with disabilities and there are just too many adjustments to make, consider moving to a more accessible abode in your area. Note that homes in Tampa, Florida, have a median listing price of $294,000. It’s important to know that thanks to the Fair Housing Act, you can’t be discriminated against for having a disabled family member — nor can you be charged more — if you decide to rent a property.
Health Insurance Is a Must
While it’s obvious that you’re going to need health insurance, it can be extremely expensive when you have a special needs child — especially considering that doctor’s appointments will be a frequent part of your life. It may be best to speak with an advisor or go through a state-sponsored program to help you navigate this process, as it affects everyone differently. Other options to consider are Medicaid, child-only health plans, or a health savings account.
Planning for Additional Expenses
Like receiving funding assistance for home modifications, there are several other resources available to help you with the additional expenses that come with raising a child with a disability. For example, nutrition and food assistance, home repairs, healthcare, therapy (physical, occupational, and speech), and more. It’s not a bad idea to start socking some extra money away in a flexible savings account before and after the baby arrives
Think About School in Advance
While school for a child with special needs is subsidized until the age of 18 (21 in some cases), thanks to the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, this only covers public schools. Research the schools in your area in advance to see what type of program they offer for special needs children. While there are several private schools across the company, they come with a hearty price tag that is in the six figures range per year, so that is not always the easiest or most realistic path. Weigh the pros and cons of homeschooling your child if your lifestyle permits. Oftentimes, kids are able to concentrate better and are able to learn at their own pace. If this is the route you take, it’s important that you incorporate socialization activities into your child’s life so they don’t become introverted or socially awkward.
Even though you’ll have your hands full, it’s important that you’re administering self-care, too. Make an effort to get enough sleep, exercise, eat properly, and take a few moments for yourself each day. You won’t be doing your child any favors by burning yourself out, so listen to your body and mind.
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By Emily Graham | firstname.lastname@example.org
Collaborative Therapeutic Services (CTS) seeks to maximize clients’ options by offering a variety of services, hours, and service providers with diverse specializations. We offer evening & weekend appointments. Have questions? Contact Us Here or Call 813-951-7346. Located in Tampa, Florida.