Jan 17, 2017
by Paul Denikin
If you're the parent of a child with special needs, you're not alone. In the United States alone, an estimated 1 in 5 children (or an estimated 2.8 million children total) are living with a disability or special need. Learning that your sweet boy or girl has a disability can be overwhelming news for any parent. Luckily, disabled children can enjoy happiness, self-esteem, safety and success in life just like able-bodied children. Here are a few ways you can modify your home to enable your child:
The first step also happens to be the easiest, most affordable, and most eco-friendly step: removing hazards and potential hazards from your home. Of course, this step can benefit not only your disabled child, but any children or adults in the home. It is also important to have a safe and clean environment for your child. Maintaining a clean home can cut down on accidents and illnesses.
Proper lighting is an important safety concern in any home, and especially in homes with children - regardless of ability. The location of lamps and lighting fixtures throughout the home is important for preventing injury. Another consideration is the angle of the lighting; make sure all lighting fixtures throughout your home are properly angled to minimize trips, falls or other injuries.
Consider switching regular door knobs for lever-handle pulls to make it easier for your child to open and close doors throughout the home without assistance. Readily available online or at most home improvement stores, this is an easy, affordable, Do-It-Yourself option for many parents. Rather than tossing out your old door knobs, consider donating any reusable door knobs to Habitat ReStore to help those in need.
Portable ramps can be a quick, simple and affordable option for parents of disabled children who need to avoid staircases. Many brands of portable ramps are available starting at under $100, making this a budget-friendly alternative to building your own ramp or hiring a professional to build one for you. Some brands are even constructed out of environmentally friendly materials. Best of all, because these ramps are portable, you can use them at home, school, restaurants, doctors' offices and more. What a great, eco-friendly way to help your child literally reach new heights!
One of the most important considerations for children with disabilities is flooring. Padded floors can improve safety and comfort throughout the home. You may find that padded floors benefit everyone in the home, regardless of age or ability. If spills are a concern, linoleum can always be installed on top of the padding. Before installing flooring, consult with an expert to determine the best floor material for your child's unique needs.
In the quest for more eco-friendly solutions for disabled children and their families. Some companies now create adaptive and custom designs for disabled children made out of recycled cardboard boxes. (Yes, you read that sentence correctly.) Even better, you can learn to engineer your own creations by taking a "cardboard carpentry" class. In addition to being an affordable and sustainable option, cardboard is lightweight, free of toxins and splinters, and doesn't pose a threat to vulnerable children.
Although parenting a disabled child has its own special considerations, it is a unique challenge that can be subdued. There are many resources to help modify your home to assist your disabled or special needs child. With a few easy, affordable and often eco-friendly home modifications, your child can live a comfortable, happy and enabled life.