Advice for Parents with Disabilities: Basic Home Preparations

by - October 25, 2018

basic home preparation advice disabled parents
Article Written by Ashley Taylor

No matter the disability, people who have them have the fundamental right to create and maintain their own loving family. Yet parents with disabilities often face persistent, systemic, and pervasive discrimination. If you are one of these parents, it may help to know you are not alone. There are 4.1 million parents with disabilities in the United States. That means roughly 6.2 percent of all American parents have a developmental, psychiatric, sensory, or physical disability. 

Parenting with a disability is just like everything else in life — it just takes some basic preparations that address your specific needs to make it easier. The following home modifications make it easier for families to keep up with their busy lives while making their environment a safer place. While many of these updates are simple, they are not free. This can make things difficult for parents who are already living on a strained budget. Fortunately, there are various grants and programs available for Americans with disabilities who need to make home modifications, such as the following: 
  • The US VA Specially Adapted Housing Grant and Special Housing Adaptation Grant 
  • The Think Alive Achievement Grant 
  • Rebuilding Together Americorps 
  • The USDA Rural Housing Repair Loans and Grants Program 
  • American Red Cross 
  • The Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) 
  • The Self-Sufficiency Grant from ModestNeeds.Org 
  • The Individual Adaptive Equipment Grant from the Travis Roy Foundation 
  • The Gary Sinise Foundation Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment (RISE) 
  • The Assisted Living Conversion for Eligible Multifamily Housing Projects (ACLP) 
  • The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks 
  • Lions Clubs International 
  • American Parkinson Disease Association 
  • The National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) 
  • The National Resource Center on Supportive Housing and Home Modification 
  • The Rehabilitation Engineering Society of North America (RESNA) Catalyst Project 


Grab Bars 

Installing grab bars in the bathroom can make mobility much easier for parents with physical disabilities. Grab bars come in different sizes, materials, colors, and finishes to suit your personal preferences. The important thing is installation. Screw them directly into wall studs to make sure they are sturdy and can support your weight. You can also mount them on acrylic or fiberglass tub surrounds by screwing clearance holes using a standard drill bit. For ceramic tile and tubs, use a masonry drill bit to screw clearance holes. There should be two grab bars by the toilet: one aligned parallel to the floor and about five or six inches above the toilet seat, and one perpendicular to the end of the horizontal bar. Stall showers should have a vertical bar just inside where the door closes, as well as a horizontal bar placed slightly above waist-high along the side wall. For shower and bathtub combos, the placement is similar, but the vertical bar needs to be installed opposite the faucet wall. 

Tripping Hazards 

You can’t always pay attention to where you’re going when you’re juggling a baby. Removing tripping hazards in the house can prevent serious injury around the home. If your home has worn carpet that’s peeling or fraying, it’s time to remove it and either replace it with new carpet or consider a hard flooring option. Make sure rugs do not pose a tripping hazard by securing them with tape or removing them altogether. Reduce clutter on the floors by adding more storage options around the house, with things like secret shelves and rolling bins, that you can easily push out of the way. 

Labeling 

You’d be surprised at how things you used to find simple suddenly become complicated when you are a parent. Beat parental brain fog and fatigue by labeling common items you need with textured tape or braille if you’re visually impaired. This can make things such as meal preparations easier and faster, as you don’t have to go crazy looking for the right item. 
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Parenting is a wonderful journey full of surprises—but those surprises don’t have to be accidents due to a disability. You can make your home safer with simple modifications that ease mobility and make daily duties more convenient. From adding grab bars to the bathroom to labeling food in the kitchen, it’s the little things that can give you an edge as a parent living with a disability.


About the Author: Ashley Taylor

Ashley Taylor is a freelance writer, photographer, and advocate for people with disabilities. She created DisabledParents.org 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.

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