Mothers with Disabilities
Physical limitations are no limitations to loving and nurturing a child
Many mothers with disabilities are able to adapt and overcome the challenges of their disability to be successful, loving parents. I know this, because I am one of these mothers. Our message: We are parents first and foremost, and despite our disability, we have the same concerns as all mothers as we raise and nurture our children.
According to Through the Looking Glass (TLG), a Berkeley, California-based nonprofit organization focusing on assisting families in which one or more members has a disability, nearly nine million parents in the United States have a disability. That’s about 15 percent of all parents in the country. Studies also indicate that more than half of those parents are mothers.
The types of disabilities included in these statistics span the gamut of intellectual issues and physical limitations such as paralysis or cerebral palsy. Additionally, some parents have sensory challenges such as deafness and blindness, while others have health issues like arthritis or lupus.
My Story: A Mother with Arthritis
Four years ago, my family doctor diagnosed me with osteoarthritis of the knees. When my daughter arrived in October 2002, I decided to discontinue the medication I was taking for my arthritis so that I could breastfeed her safely. My plan was to wean her when she was six months old and resume my medication then. During those months, the extent of my disease became more apparent. I had pain in my feet, which caused problems with my joints and muscles. I have joint deterioration in my knees, back, and neck. Finally, a rheumatologist diagnosed me with psoriatic arthritis, which is even more severe than the osteoarthritis I thought I had.
Despite the challenges of my pain, I manage to focus on the development of my toddler and enjoy her laughter and play. My experience has prompted me to start a quest for resources to empower parents with disabilities. On that quest I have met and read about many others like me who have integrated their disability into their way of life and are successful mothers.
One of my role models is Trish Day. Her experiences as a mom with cerebral palsy motivated her to establish Parents with Disabilities Online, a website designed to help other parents with disabilities locate resources and gain empowerment.
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