Having a child with a disability can be rewarding. When your child has special needs, you have a special bond with that child as you actively work with them to make their life normal and enjoyable. However, it can be draining and difficult. You can help your child have a happy and healthy life and even have energy leftover for yourself. Here is a guide on how to best prepare for your new baby.
Communicate with Medical Professionals
If you find out about your child’s disability before birth, maintain close contact with your doctor. Careful communication with trained medical professionals helps you know what to expect. You’ll be able to prepare for unforeseen needs and complications that may arise. An article in Slate recommends that you talk with a genetic counselor. This is one way to understand what testing is available so you know what preparations are necessary.
Look Into Good Insurance
There are resources available for parents of disabled children. You might be eligible for Supplemental Security Income, which is given out by the state. Research the options your local government offers and see which ones are the best fit for you. There are also options for people whose incomes are too high for Medicaid but too low for private health insurance. Make sure your health insurance covers all the potential conditions that might come up with your child.
Plan for Additional Expenses
Sometimes government assistance and health insurance won’t cover everything, and you might be hit with some extra costs. According to CNBC, you can set up an ABLE account, which allows you to put money away for your disabled child and have it grow on a tax-deferred basis. This can help you ensure that your child is taken care of in case something happens to you or your partner.
You’ll need to make your home child-friendly as well. Make sure you have the proper equipment installed for your child, whether it’s non-slip mats or grab bars. Invest in your special needs child like you would invest in their college tuition. Outside of doctor’s appointments, you’ll have to pay for therapy and other services that help your child become more independent. Those can add up, but early intervention will save you costs in the long run.
Look Into Service Animals
As your child grows, consider getting your child a service dog. Special needs children can do well with animals, and autistic children especially enjoy the sensory experience of pets. An animal can help your child learn coping skills rather than giving up on something. Of course, not all service animals are dogs. You can find service animals in horses, rabbits, or cats. See how your child interacts with animals and observe what kinds of animals they respond to best.
Take Care of Your Own Physical and Mental Well-Being
Having a special needs child can reshape your identity. Try not to focus all of your energy on your child. Take some time for yourself and engage in hobbies you enjoy. Make sure you’re sleeping well and getting exercise. You may not have all the time in the world to focus on yourself, but even the tiniest break can make a difference.
It may be overwhelming, but you aren’t alone on this journey. Look into whatever financial options are available, and prepare your home the best you can. Understand what you can about your child’s condition, and if possible, look at service animals as an option. It’ll take some trial and error, but you’re more than capable of raising an independent and happy child.
Emily Graham is the creator of mightymoms.net. She believes being a mom is one of the hardest jobs around and wanted to create a support system for moms from all walks of life. On her site, she offers a wide range of info tailored for busy moms -- from how to reduce stress to creative ways to spend time together as a family.