Raising children is one of the most important jobs in the world. It is a huge learning experience and I have learned so much from my daughter. She has a few disabilities and uses a wheelchair for mobility. She did not always use a wheelchair and was developmentally on track with her motor skills up until the age of 5.
She got her first wheelchair when she was 8. She is 12 now, so the bathroom accommodations are fairly new to me. The bathroom is one of the most dangerous rooms in a home. It is important to make it safe.
My daughter uses the toilet, so one of the first changes I needed to make to the bathroom was to the toilet. There are many different toilet “helpers” on the market, but arm rests on the sides of the toilet are a necessity. It is important that she has something to hold on to for balance when she transfers from her wheelchair. The arm rests also help her sit better because she uses her arms for truncal support.
There are complete seating systems for the toilet that include a seatbelt harness and foot rest. What you choose will depend on your child’s individual needs. I also make sure the floor stays clear of clothes, towels, and rugs so there is less risk of fall, and she can move easier without anything under her feet.
The shower was another place we needed to make safe for her. There are many shower chairs available, but it is essential to have something she can rest on. It helps with stability. She can sit comfortably while she washes her body and I wash her hair. I also added lots of nonslip stickers or mats on the shower floor to prevent falls.
Our shower has one hand bar but we added another at the shower’s entry. She can hold onto the bar to help her transfer into the shower. I also make sure to have nonslip rugs on the bathroom floor, just for shower time, so if water splashes onto the floor, it will not make the floor slippery.
Safety-proofing the house for the kids when they were toddlers was hard, but now my house is transforming into a safety conscious, accessible setting. It took some time for me to get use to the changes. After a while, everything just seems like it has been there forever. Most importantly, my daughter is as safe as possible in one of the most dangerous rooms of our house.
Learn more about modifications to your home to improve safety and accessibility.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.