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Need to Modify Your Home for a Disabled Child? Here's How to Start!

Updated: Aug 1, 2020

This weeks blog comes to you from a guest blogger, Ashley Taylor. Ashley and her husband have disabilities and they knew there would be greater challenges to preparing and planning to have children. Ashley has written this phenomenal piece to help others on this journey to parenthood. 

Caring for children with physical challenges requires extensive planning and foresight, both for their sake and for your own. In this post, we'll share expert tips for covering all the bases, helping to ensure lasting happiness for both you and your child. We intend this material as a high-level introduction to the topic. Please consult an architect, physical therapist, or other professional for detailed guidance.

Building a Wheelchair Ramp

Costs for installing a wheelchair ramp vary depending on the extent of the project and the materials used in construction. A threshold ramp in a doorway could cost as little as $100, but larger ramps, depending on material and size, can cost $1,000 to $15,000. According to BrainLine, these ramps serve not only people in wheelchairs but also those who can walk with the aid of crutches or a cane.

Widening Doorways and Hallway

Preparing your home for a disabled child should include widening doorways to 36 inches and hallways to 42 inches or wider. You should replace standard door knobs with special units designed for people with coordination or muscle-control issues. These guidelines may vary depending on your child's diagnosis and physical condition.

Modifying Bathrooms

You will need to modify at least one bathroom to meet your child's needs. Typical steps in this process include:

  • Installing grab bars in the shower stall.

  • Expanding the area around the toilet to accommodate a person in a wheelchair.

  • Installing slip-resistant flooring.

  • Resituating shower and faucet controls for easy access.

Making the Kitchen Accessible

Common steps taken when the child is able to assist in meal preparation include:

Installing a lower-profile stove/oven, cabinets, and sinks.

  • Expanding the kitchen to accommodate a person with mobility issues.

  • Adding grab bars.

  • Installing slip-resistant flooring.

Modifying the Child's Bedroom

Possible alterations include:

  • Installing an orthopedic bed with rails, motorized adjustments, and other enhancements.

  • Adding height-accessible dressers and other furnishings.

  • Creating additional storage for wheelchairs, medical equipment, etc.

  • Expanding existing closet space and/or improving access.

  • Adding a private bathroom or enhancing access to an existing one.

Miscellaneous Modifications

Other commons remodeling steps include:

  • Eliminating elevation changes on the home's first floor. For example, you might need to remove or modify built-in steps leading to or from a sunken living room. You may also need to add mini-ramps throughout the home to ensure safe transition from one room to the next.

  • Adding lighting fixtures or modifying existing ones to make the home brighter, as many disabled people must cope with visual challenges.

  • Installing a whole-house fire alert system that sounds all alarms at the same time, giving residents as much advance notice of an emergency as possible.

  • Installing a whole-house intercom system and/or additional ways to contact emergency responders.

Financing Home Modifications

Both public and private agencies can help finance the modifications discussed in this article. Possible sources include:

  • Government grants.

  • Programs offered by the Red Cross and similar organizations.

  • Loans from banks or credit unions.

Talk with your child's therapist/caseworker, social service agencies, or private foundations in your area to find out more about these sources.

HERE is a helpful guide that gives additional information and resources for wheelchair users.

You can also find this useful guide HERE for home modifications for seniors and the disabled.

You can view another guide HERE which provides a checklist for home accessibility, federal and state financial assistance programs, and moving tips for people with disabilities.

Click HERE to find an extensive guide on Is a Therapy Dog Right for Your Child with Autism this resource has super-helpful information and tips on anyone considering a therapy dog for their child with autism.

The home modification steps discussed in this post require initiative and planning on your part. But the results will make the efforts more than worthwhile, You will look back on these changes as time and money well spent, when you see your child thrive and mature in the years to come.

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