Life can change in the blink
of an eye. In the twilight of a warm September evening, life certainly changed for me in the blink of an eye. In a freak accident, I fell off a tombstone in a cemetery and broke the sixth vertebrae in my neck. I have been paralyzed from the chest down ever since. At the time the accident happened,
my son was about to turn five-years-old. After the initial shock of realizing the severity of my injury, my first thoughts
went to my son. How would I parent with such a severe physical impairment? Also, I realized that I would have liked to have had more children. Could I have more
children with such physical challenges to overcome? Moving through the journey
of my recovery, I came to understand that parenting with a disability was not much different than parenting without one. Yes,
I could care for an active five-year-old. And, I went on to carry, give birth, and raise twin girls. Today, my son is 19-years-old and my twin girls are 13. Parenting
takes courage no matter what the circumstance.
to understand that parenting
with a disability
was not much different than parenting without one."
There are a few
tips that I can give that might help individuals with a disability parent to the best of their ability. First, I would say read up. The links at the conclusion of this article provide information and insight
as to adaptions and perspectives that might make the technical as well as the emotional aspects of parenting with a disability
easier. Also, look for resources specific to your location. For instance, when my girls were young, I joined the local Mothers of Multiples organization. Very helpful organization that included women who were more than happy to talk, help, or get me out of
the house to be involved in community activities. Flexibility is a key ability.
What works for one family may not work for another. When my girls were small, we lowered their crib so that I could easily
access them for changing, feeding, and playing. Also, I chose to use a power wheelchair rather than a manual chair. The power
wheelchair allowed me to keep up with my active, growing five-year-old. Do not
be afraid to ask for help. However, remember that it is okay for you to be in charge. You are the parent. When sharing parenting
responsibilities with family members, friends, and caregivers be kind and gracious but also be firm and confident in your
ability to know what is best for you and your children. Journeying through a
pregnancy while negotiating the challenges of a physical disability is a daunting undertaking in which you are often the expert,
as medical professionals may not have much experience in helping individuals with a disability through pregnancy and in preparing
As of late, I
have had the unfortunate experience of having to go through a divorce. Experiencing
divorce and issues of custody and support from the perspective of an individual with a disability has only strengthened my
belief that, although having more challenges to overcome, a parent with an outward disability is no different than parent
with no outward disability. Maintaining a strong sense of self is extremely important. Children take cues from their parents.
Similarly, the family court system responds well to individuals who are confident and have a plan. At the conclusion of this article, I have included links with information regarding issues of custody and
support for parents with disabilities.
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