Challenges People with Disabilities Face as Parents

We’re grateful to Dana, who has sent previous information to the Useful Links pages of the Bader Information section of the DBF website for sending us this article, which is included in the Useful Links Page under Independent Living. The article contains a number of informative links. These will open in separate tabs. 


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Having a baby changes your life. From the moment that little bundle of joy enters your world, your life isn’t exactly your own anymore. It’s for them until the day you die. It’s a huge responsibility only outweighed by the love and pride you get in return. Such an awesome joy is every human’s right, yet some people are discriminated against simply because they are a little bit different.

In recent years laws that were initially designed to protect people with disabilities have failed to maintain these people’s rights as parents to take care of their children. There is a pervasive cultural belief that people with disabilities don’t raise kids– perhaps even shouldn’t raise kids. However, people with disabilities are likely more prepared for parenthood than those without, as having a disability teaches you how to be adaptable in this world. Furthermore, the idea that people with disabilities don’t have kids is preposterous. Nearly one in 10 kids in the United States is being raised by a parent who lives with a physical or mental disability.

Despite societal prejudices and false assumptions, a person who finds themself longing to be a parent should get to be one. Kids need loving, supportive and happy people to teach them and raise them into being loving, successful and happy adults. No disability makes a person unable to provide these things.

Parenthood Preparations for People with Disabilities

When it comes to parenting, it truly does take a village. People with disabilities should take advantage of every single resource available to them. There are websites, government programs and nonprofits abound that can help with everything from funding medical care to helping with transportation when needed. Beyond national resources, also look into what your local government agencies provide.

Medical Care

If you wish to have the baby yourself, discuss your desire to get pregnant with your main doctor. They can discuss any medical issues or complications that may be present and how you may be able to prevent complications. They can also refer you to a specific OB/GYN that has experience working with parents with your particular disability. When it comes to medical care, finding physicians with experience is worth their weight in gold.

Baby-proofing and Adding Accessibility

Baby-proofing involves putting away hazardous materials that could lead to bodily injury for your baby. Some people like to get it done before the due date every approached. Others wait until the baby is able to actually do something other than sleep, cry and poop. When you baby-proof is up to you, your schedule and your budget. There’s no right or wrong answer.

As a person with a disability, you may already have plenty of accessibility features around the house. Amping up your accessibility around the house in preparation for parenthood can’t hurt, though. For instance, adding automatic door closers can help parents with mobility issues when they are juggling a toddler and groceries and don’t even have the time to close the door behind them. A new alarm system that alerts you when a door is opened can be useful when the baby learns to walk. Even if that’s a few years away, thinking about these renovations and modifications now can give you time to budget and plan properly.

Caring for Yourself

New parents often get so excited about their new bundle of joy they neglect themselves. Your own self-care is also for the benefit of your baby. If you neglect your needs, it will manifest in your mood, your actions, even you physical state of being. When you don’t feel your best, you can’t be your best at parenting. Listen to your body and realize when you need a break to decompress and center yourself. Pick up some healthy stress-management techniques because you will feel stressed as a parent. Check in regularly with your medical care providers, but also check in regularly with your friends and family. Having others around you that love and support you in your parenting endeavors is essential when it comes to caring for your mental health.


Despite societal challenges, people with disabilities make wonderful and loving parents. Knowing how to adapt to a world not specifically made for them is a skill money can’t buy. Beyond preparing your home for parenthood, don’t forget to prepare yourself through proper self-care.