Guest post written by Jennifer McGregor of Public Health Library
Finding the right home for your family—and preparing them for the move—is always a serious undertaking. When you have a child with a disability, however, you have a lot more to consider. It’s not just a matter of finding a property with enough room or the right aesthetic—you also need to make sure your child can navigate their space safely. Plus, you need to find ways to make the process as low-stress as possible: for them and for you. Here are some tips on how to give your child the best start in their new home.
Make Your Job Easier
Many parents pile too much work on their own shoulders when it comes to moving. Although this can make you feel in control, it often backfires. It’s important that you have the mental and emotional energy to help your family during this transition. The more logistics you have to handle on your own, the harder that’s going to be.
Instead, consider hiring a professional to help with the move. For example, a moving team can haul boxes and furniture from one space to the next. This can make moving day easier and reduce your risk of injury. You’ll want to make sure the company is duly licensed and insured, and compare references and rates.
Similarly, you may want to hire a professional if you want any work done to your new home before you move in—like painting or installing new hardware. Even if you’re capable of handling a task, that doesn’t mean you need to do it. It may cost more, but do your research to find competitive rates. Remember, your time and energy are also valuable.
Involve Your Child
A common mistake is to shelter children with disabilities from major events like moving. Although you’re trying to protect them from stress, the opposite is usually true. Kids of all abilities need to feel the reassurance that their parents trust them to be part of major family decisions.
For example, you could put your child in charge of decorating their room. Let them pick a paint color, choose adaptive furniture, or pick the best texture for their bed linens. Focus on something that makes good use of your child’s abilities and gives them a chance to establish their identity and space in their new home.
Modify the Space as Needed
Unless you’re building a home or you’re able to find an accessible home, odds are you will need to make some modifications. It’s absolutely vital to make these before your child moves in if possible. Your child needs to know, from the moment they move in, that their needs are appreciated and that this new space feels welcoming.
Although some modifications can be DIY’d if you have the time, be sure to hire a professional for any ramps, lifts, or other major accessibility features. The wrong approach to installing these kinds of features can lead to serious safety problems for your whole family. Reach out to local disability organizations for a referral to an accessibility-focused contractor you can trust.
You have a lot to consider when moving with a child with a disability, but the extra work is worth it. Hopefully this information gives you the tools to create a smooth transition for your whole family. Soon, your new space will have all of you feeling right at home.