Parenting with a Disability


By MATP Staff Member Laura Hall

Laura holding a sleeping baby. His head on her chest and her cheek resting on his head

Several nights ago, as a newly married couple, my husband and I were lying in bed talking about our desire to have a baby.  We both are confident that we are fully capable of having a child, taking care of a child and being amazing parents.  Yet, as we were having this discussion the issues of lack of information about parenting with a disability and social stigma came up.  Although both of us had been around babies and young children, neither one of us has much experience with the day-to-day tasks of childcare.  I have been told many times that I am not capable of being a parent, or should consider adopting an older child.  As a person in a wheelchair with Cerebral Palsy, I found that many of the parents with children in my world were overly cautious when it came to allowing me to hold and care for their babies.  As a result, I don’t have much experience with feeding, or changing a diaper, or lifting a child because they were always carefully placed in my lap and I was watched with a careful eye.  We know if we do become pregnant that we will have to educate ourselves, practice, and find assistive technology (AT) that will meet our needs as parents.

For this reason, I am so excited that the Michigan Assistive Technology Program is holding a webinar on “Assistive Technology for Parenting with a Disability” on April 27th.  Preparing for the webinar has been extremely informative, but also a bit of a roller coaster ride emotionally, as so little is written on the topic, and much of what is written focuses on the challenges of parents with disabilities, the debate about whether they should be parents at all, and stories of parents who have lost custody of their children on the basis of disability.  However, finding resources like Through the Looking Glass, that provides trainings and publications on the topic or the Disabled Parenting Project which highlights assistive technology for parenting, a support community and more, have given me hope and confidence.  Even more encouraging are the stories we have heard from parents with disabilities, describing the ways they have used both commercially available products and their own ingenious modifications or methods to handle childcare tasks.  We hope that you will register and join us for this innovative webinar that will challenge stigma and show that people with disabilities are, and can be wonderful parents.

Are you a parent with a disability?  We would love to hear from you!  Leave a comment below.


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