02 Mar How to Prepare When Expecting a Child with Mental or Physical Disability
From decorating the nursery to arranging child care, expecting parents always need to make important preparations before their baby arrives. If your soon-to-be son or daughter has a mental or physical disability, several extra steps are needed to ensure their comfort. Find out what you can do to get ready below.
Prepare Your Home for Their Needs
An estimated 35.9 percent of the 8.9 million households in Australia have at least one person with disability. If your little one is among these special needs persons, you need to ensure that your house is equipped to handle their needs — now and in the future. For example, if you anticipate that your child will require the use of mobility aids, you can prepare in advance by investing in a wheelchair-accessible property with wide hallways and no stairs.
It’s not just the property itself but also the surrounding area that matters. When assessing the neighborhood, consider aspects like schools. In addition to the availability of special education programs, scope out the school in terms of accessibility. Are there playgrounds and recreational areas available for all types of kids? Other aspects to consider when assessing neighborhoods are physical environment — accessibility, in particular — and access to amenities such as playgrounds and shops.
Prepare Financially in Terms of Insurance and Added expenses
Many special needs children may require some sort of additional care in terms of day-to-day activities. Educate yourself about Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme, which offers resources for parents so they can manage their child’s support. Consider what added costs you will need to cover. For instance, your child may require behavioral, physical, or speech therapy in order to thrive.
You may also want to prepare for additional expenses for your child’s future. A special needs trust is one option. You set aside money that your little one can rely on, for instance after you pass away. This can be supplemented with a survivorship insurance policy: You pay an annual premium for a set amount of life insurance on yourself and when you pass on, that money goes directly into a special needs trust without having to go through probate.
Establish a Support Network
Being a parent to a special needs child is immensely rewarding, but it also poses challenges. Caregiver burnout is a very real medical condition that can lead to depression, anxiety, and exhaustion. It’s important to take proactive measures to prevent such burnout. Only by ensuring that you are in good health can you also provide for your child.
For help, research resources for parents of children with disabilities. The Australian parenting website Raisingchildren.net.au offers a list of options, such as Livewire — an online community for young people with disabilities — and Siblings Australia, which provides support specifically to siblings of those with special needs. Being able to connect with families who share your circumstances can help ease stress and provide emotional support.
Educate yourself on caring for a special needs child
As the parent of a child with a physical or mental disability, you have to learn about more than simply changing diapers. Look into educational opportunities that suit your needs. For instance, there are courses available specifically to help parents of children with autism spectrum disorder. There are also many resources available online, such as this handy guide for parents on caring for a baby with cerebral palsy.
The months before any baby’s birth are sure to be a mix of nerves and excitement. When you are expecting an infant with special needs, these emotions will be heightened. There’s no need to stress, however. With these guidelines, you can ensure that you are ready to welcome your baby into your home and provide them the high standard of care they need.
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About the Author
Lisa is passionate about educating people about what it’s like to move to Australia. She enjoys spreading safety and wellness advice to Aussies and those visiting Australia.
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