Besides specialty health care, families with disabled children will also find themselves spending extra money on home modifications that will make the home accessible and safe for the child. Parents are encouraged to check into local and state resources that will help fund some or all of the necessary changes. While changes can be expensive, they are generally much cheaper than the cost of a group home would be. Parents should consider some of the following options and will definitely want to consider chatting with an occupational therapist who will be able to look at the home environment and the child’s needs and offer further suggestions.
First, the entrance to the house and the basic rooms that the child will need to access should be on the main floor or accessible via a ramp. Homes that are not built with entrances level to the ground should be ramp-accessible. Ramps should be built at very low inclines and should not be designed to bypass more than two steps into the home. Inside the home, the child’s bedroom and bathroom, as well as the kitchen, should be on the main floor.
Second, bathrooms and kitchens will need changes that allow disabled children to work in them without fear of falling. Often, countertops will need to be lower for children in wheelchairs. Doorways must be large enough for wheelchairs or other assistive devices; a width of at least 36 inches is recommended. The kitchen should be large enough for easy access. In general, a U or L-shaped kitchen is preferable to a galley-style kitchen. In the bathroom, parents should have grab bars installed in the shower and by the toilet. Bathrooms that that have tubs instead of showers will need to include a walk-in feature for the bathtub.
Parents will also need to think outside the box for the specific needs of their disabled children. Children who require certain technologies may need a generator in the house to provide electricity in the case of electrical failure. Other considerations include low-pile carpets or hard floors, lever door handles rather than knobs, wheelchair-height electrical outlets, and roll-under sinks.