Tips for Parents
Once you’ve experienced the shock and euphoria that accompanies the news that you’re having a baby, your thoughts move on to the physical and financial preparations that need to be made. There’s a nursery to be assembled as well as equipment and supplies to be acquired so you’re ready to go when the big day arrives.
For parents who find they’re expecting a child with a physical or mental disability, the shock they experience is of a slightly different nature. On one hand, you’re thrilled to be expecting a baby; on the other hand, you’re left to cope with the reality of having a disabled child and the special preparations that have to be made. It takes a while to get used to the idea, but know that you’re not alone, and that there’s plenty of support to help you be effective, well-prepared parents.
A disabled child is likely to require frequent medical attention, especially in the beginning, so take the time to review coverage options available to you through health insurance, Medicaid and Social Security. If your child requires extensive care, it may or may not be covered by insurance, and there will be costs incurred by frequent doctor visits or therapy appointments. Not all of it may be covered, which is why you need to know what to expect and what your financial obligation may be, depending on your insurance policy.
Find out if yours is the kind of coverage that allows patients with disabilities to remain on their parents’ insurance policy indefinitely. For now, it’s important to know what to expect in the weeks after you bring your baby home from the hospital and talk to your healthcare provider so you have a good idea of your child’s treatment needs.
Depending on your child’s disability, you may need to find a new house that’s fully accessible or make modifications to your existing home. If you choose to look elsewhere, spend plenty of time researching accessible homes for sale in your area (homes in Centennial, Colorado, went for an average cost of $400,000 over the past 30 days). These may include adding an external ramp entry, providing level transitions from room to room, installing grab rails in the bathroom and in the hallways, and installing non-skid flooring. Safety gates are another necessity for any parent whose home has stairways, and be prepared to arrange your bedroom to accommodate a crib while you and your child are making the transition.
Raising a child is an expensive proposition for parents under any circumstances. For parents with a disabled child, care expenses can be especially burdensome. Therapy, prescription medications, mobility assistive devices, caregivers, special home accessibility additions, aids for daily living (for eating, dressing, bathing, etc.) and doctor co-pays all add up over time in addition to the usual baby-care expenses, such as diapers, wipes, lotions, formula, and on and on.
This is one area where you can take control of the situation by establishing a childcare fund as soon as you know you’re expecting. You may also be able to take advantage of employee benefits such as paid time off to care for dependents, or set up a flexible spending account (FSA) or a dependent care FSA. You may also set up an ABLE account, which lets families set aside tax-deferred funds for a disabled beneficiary.
There’s usually a transition period for any new parent once their little one comes home. Your body has to adjust to late nights (and sleepless nights) and to the special awareness that any new parent must maintain through the day and night. The situation is even more demanding when you’re coping with a child’s disability. Remember, as a parent, you need to get some rest and some down time now and then in order to be an effective parent. Go see a movie, hit the gym, have coffee with friends, or engage in a little retail therapy. It’s important you make time for self-care.
Parenting is always a challenge, so it’s important to be as prepared as possible. That means gathering the equipment and supplies you need and saving for childcare expenses as soon as you know you’ll be a parent. Carefully check your health insurance coverage and financial options when preparing to bring a disabled child home so you’re as prepared as possible.
Guest Article written by Emily Graham at Mighty Moms: http://mightymoms.net