Author Archives: Guest Author

Parents with Disabilities: Home Preparations to Make Before Baby Arrives

Baby 2

 

by Jenny Wise

 

Baby 2All parents go through a nesting period where they get their home ready for baby’s arrival. As a parent living with a disability, you want your nesting process to be about more than just building a crib and painting the nursery. In addition to those things, it’s important to make any necessary modifications around the house that will accommodate your particular needs in a way that will make things easier during the hectic newborn period.

 

Declutter and De-Stress

Did you know that clutter directly results in higher levels of stress and anxiety? Let’s just say that with a new baby in the house, those are the last two guests you want to let inside. In the months leading up to your due date, it’s important to focus on what you can get rid of so you can have a clean and decluttered home before the chaos of parenthood descends.

 

Decluttering is a pretty personal process, but it helps to start in an area full of things that are less sentimental in value. For instance, if you have a garage full of sports gear you don’t really care about, that’s a great place to begin your decluttering. Commit to decluttering room by room rather than trying to tackle the entirety of the home at once. It’s easy to get distracted when you’re sorting through possessions, so committing to finishing one room before moving on to the next can help keep you on track.

 

If you find yourself with a pile of items that you don’t exactly have room for, but you’re also not quite ready to get rid of, consider renting an offsite storage unit where you can stash them safely. You can revisit what to keep down the road if you decide you want to make room in your life for them. If you’re worried that a storage unit will be too expensive for your budget, worry not. The average monthly cost of a storage unit in Colorado Springs over the past six months was only $97.96.

 

Find the Right Crib

Safety should be your number one concern when looking at cribs, but as a parent living with a disability, it’s also important to look for one that is easy for you to use so you always have access to your child. Parents who use wheelchairs should look at models whose heights can be adjusted to your needs. Many parents with disabilities also find that cots with dropping or sliding sides make it easier to get baby out of bed in the morning. If you can’t find an accessible crib that fits your budget and your needs as a parent with a disability, look online for DIY tutorials on how to add accessibility to an affordable model, and have family and friends lend a hand with the construction. Many cribs, some for as little as $299, convert to toddler or full-sized beds, which can be a great way to save money

 

Be Present

Parenting while managing a disability presents a unique set of challenges, so much so, that many people find themselves having a hard time juggling all their responsibilities. As a new parent, go easy on yourself and don’t worry about meeting a set of impossible standards. Instead, be present during this special time so you can truly enjoy it. Otherwise, you may find yourself looking back in a few years and regretting that you wasted time being absent-minded and worrying over things that will eventually prove to be inconsequential.

 

All new parents make mistakes. The major one you want to avoid is being so hard on yourself that you forget to enjoy this wonderful time in your life. Everything from the pregnancy to the first years of baby’s life will fly by quicker than you realize, so enjoy yourself as much as you can.

 

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Preparing for parenthood isn’t easy, but if you’re a parent who lives with a disability, you have your work cut out for you. A great place to start is with decluttering. Getting rid of items you do not need makes your home cleaner and easier to manage with a newborn. Look for a crib option that is accessible. If you cannot afford an accessible model, check out online tutorials to help you transform one to fit your needs. Finally, don’t be too hard on yourself during this time. While parenting with a disability is undoubtedly difficult, you want to be as present as possible so you can truly enjoy this magical time in your life.

Calming Colors, Restful Space: Designing a Bedroom for a Child with Autism

Calming Room Design for Child on Autism Spectrum

By Jenny Wise

 

Calming Room Design for Child on Autism SpectrumParents are inclined to decorate a child’s bedroom with bright colors and lots of fun knick-knacks, creating an engaging, often whimsical environment designed to delight a child. For parents of autistic children, the reality is somewhat different. A child on the autism spectrum does much better in a calming, distraction-free space that’s conducive to relaxation and restful sleep. An autistic child’s bedroom should be a haven from the chaos of the world, which confronts them with a daily sensory onslaught that’s exhausting and makes it difficult to function. This hyper-sensitivity to stimuli makes it important establish a room their child can retreat to whenever he needs a personal retreat.

A Natural, Muted Look

Bright reds and sunny yellows look cheery but challenge an autistic child with a visual onslaught he or she will find difficult to cope with. Instead, opt for earth tones (beige, tan, and brown), or soft shades of blue and green, complemented by rugs made of soft, natural fibers. The natural look and feel of wood furniture can help create a safe haven. Make sure there are no sharp corners or metal attachments on furniture that could cause injury.

Lighting

Soft lighting that fosters a relaxing environment is ideal, so emphasize LED or incandescent light bulbs and use window treatments that allow natural light in and can be shuttered easily. Exposure to natural light is healthy and helps a child sleep better at night, but other external elements — particularly sound — may be problematic if your child is especially susceptible to noise (many autistic children are). Automated lighting, which senses when someone enters and leaves the room, is very useful in creating a soothing play and sleep environment for autistic children.

The Importance of Sleep

Good, restful sleep is essential for any child. For a youngster on the autism spectrum, however, it can help prevent sudden mood swings and emotional reactions to frustrations that occur during the day. If your child is having trouble getting to sleep at night, discomfort may be the reason, so take a close look at his mattress. A lumpy, uneven mattress, or one that holds body heat, may be causing insomnia. If so, it may be necessary to get a new one with thin, breathable material that helps keep his body temperature down.

 

Separate Spaces

Spatial orientation is also an important factor when designing for an autistic child, so try to create a bedroom with distinct areas for sleep, study, and play. This will minimize distraction and make it easier for your child to focus on one activity at a time. Soft, simple, and comfortable furnishings are best, as are soft toys. Be careful to establish a homework space that’s clearly distinguishable from other parts of the room to help concentration on schoolwork.

Noise-Inhibiting Accoutrements

Make liberal use of sound-inhibiting materials in your child’s bedroom. Consider using acoustic wall panels and flooring, which can mitigate the sound of passing cars and trucks and TVs from other rooms. Soft rugs, pillows, and blankets are also helpful in muffling sound and helping an autistic child feel both safe and comfortable. Wicker can be a much better option than a hardwood chest of drawers or a wooden toy chest, which can be upsetting if slammed shut. Try using colored plastic bins that can easily be accessed for storing frequently used objects.

A well-planned bedroom can give your child a room that’s conducive to healthy sleep, focused study, and creative play. Bear in mind the need to design an environment suffused in calm, soothing colors and with distinct, easily distinguishable spaces.

 

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

“Just Like Everyone Else” – Life on the Autism Spectrum

Autism Ribbon

by Deborah V

 

Autism RibbonA world of color, sound and social interactions surround us. However, what happens when your environment and your daily activities are strained due to the perceived normality’s in the world.

Every day, a person with Autism wakes up and copes with the world.

The Autism Spectrum is diverse. Nonetheless, we all share commonalities.

Yes, I used the word “we”. I am an adult on the Autism Spectrum.

In my experience, when a person finds out I have Autism. Their first inclination is to ask stereotypical questions.

How can you be Autistic when you speak? Or You seem so smart, how can you be Autistic?

The stereotypical concept that is etched in the public’s mind is: If you have Autism, you must not be able to function “normally.”

Just like everyone else I go to school, work and enjoy various hobbies.

Are there challenges and obstacles in life? Yes, but every person has obstacles to overcome.

Humanity adapts and evolves.

When you are individual with Autism you spend your life adapting.

For example, everyone loves a soft cuddling blanket in winter. But what would you do if touching that soft blanket caused you physical pain? What about going to a concert? What if the sounds produced by the crowd and the band caused you to feel sheer terror?

How do I cope? I can’t cuddle in the winter with a soft blanket, but a smooth blanket does just fine. I use noise cancelling headphones to drown out excessive noise.

There is always a different way to accomplish the same goal. The key to my life with Autism is: I am just like you. I am a person. I feel. I smile. I cry. I learn different than you, but I learn. I work just like you, but I to adapt my surroundings. I CAN do anything.

At the end of the day I have Autism, but I am Just Like Everyone Else.

Live More Independently with Smart Home Technologies

Smart Home Technology and Adaptive Technology

by Beth Casey

 

Smart Home Technology and Adaptive TechnologyLiving with a disability or caring for someone with a disability is not without its challenges. Individuals with disabilities have the right to live as independently as possible, but some aspects of homes can make that difficult. Light switches, ceiling fans, door locks and other switches and controls are out of reach for some. For others, having voice-activated assistance devices can make a world of a difference between living at home and living in a care facility. That’s where smart home technology comes in.

 

Smart home technologies, while still new, are gaining ground and helping people with disabilities live more independently. According to the CDC’s most recent report, there are over 56 million Americans living with disabilities. Pew Research reports that more than half of American adults with disabilities have a computer or smartphone. Considering this, smart home technological advances and the rise of IoT should be considered as an option to empower those living with disabilities to live more independently. So, what are some of these smart home technologies? We’re glad you asked.

 

At the touch of a button…

Where would smart home technology be without the aid of smartphone apps? Today, we rely on our smartphones more than ever before. There’s an app for nearly everything. Now, smart home technology is included among those choices. Some smartphone apps allow you to turn on or off your lights, check the contents of your refrigerator, turn on or off a fan, lock your doors, and more. Yet, smartphones aren’t the only things that can empower a more independent life.

 

My voice is my password…

 Smart home assistants like Google Home and Amazon Echo are now the rave. They allow you to voice your questions or commands to discover the weather, temperature, schedule appointments, order online, play music, and more. The best part about this technology is that there are no specific commands to memorize. Simply talk to your smart home assistant like you would a person and it will respond in a similar manner.

Connecting your smart home assistant to Samsung’s SmartThings Hub makes your home more accessible by allowing you to adjust the lights, the thermostat, lock the doors, receive problem alerts, and more – all with your voice.

 

The land of the robot…

 With robotics, you can do everything from cleaning the floors to having a surrogate for many of your daily tasks. There are other types of robots available today to help people with a myriad of disabilities. Some, like the Roomba vacuum or the iRobot Braava Jet mop, are more task-specific, but they are far from the only ones.

The DEKA arm, now approved by the FDA, is a robotic arm that’s making waves among amputees. Through an inspiration to serve the human spirit, inventor, Dean Kamen created the DEKA arm with 10-degrees of freedom. This allows it to pick up things as small as a raisin or a grape without damaging them and can assist you with carrying heavier loads of up to 20 lbs, like a bag of groceries.

The PR2 was created by Willows Garage, The Healthcare and Robotics Lab at Georgia Tech, and The Man and Machines Group at Oregon State. It serves as a personal surrogate and allows accessibility of many daily tasks like shaving, picking things up, and much more. The PR2 empowers people with disabilities like Henry Evans, a person who is nonverbal and lives with quadriplegia.

Although there is a cost disadvantage for some, there are organizations willing to help if you meet their criteria. Organizations like Tunnel to Towers Foundation help veterans with severe service-connected disabilities. Meanwhile, Living Resources helped build a smart home for six individuals. If you’ve been considering smart home technologies, take a closer look. They may be just the answer needed to empower you to live  a more independent life.

 

Beth Casey is a researcher and a regular contributor to TrustRadius where she shares her knowledge on the latest business trends and B2B news and technologies.

Who is on your Health Care Team?

Contributing writer: Pam Burgoa, Individual Advocacy Specialist at The Independence Center

 

Happy senior patient with friendly female nurse

Navigating the medical world can be overwhelming, especially if you aren’t familiar with the roles of everyone on your healthcare team. We’ve created a cheat sheet to help you keep everyone’s titles and roles straight, from your MD or NP to your RN, or LPN. This also includes people you’ll get to know on your home health care team, like CNAs, PCAs, and HHAs.

Medical Professional What They Do

 

Doctor of Medicine or M.D. MD’s practice allopathic or “Western Medicine”, the classical form of medicine, focused on the diagnosis and treatment of human diseases
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine or D.O. D.O.’s are trained to have a more holistic approach to medicine and follow a medical philosophy called osteopathic medicine. DO’s are trained to consider a patient’s environment, nutrition, and body system as a whole when diagnosing and treating medical conditions.

 

Nurse Practitioner or NP Nurse practitioners are trained in accordance with the nursing and patient-centered treatment model. They frequently practice autonomously without direct physician oversight even when under a collaborative agreement with an MD. In a growing number of states they are permitted to practice and prescribe completely independently without any kind of physician collaboration required.

 

Physician Assistant or PA Physician assistants attend programs that are more in-line with the medical and disease-centered treatment model. Physician assistants practice routinely without any direct supervision from an MD.  They perform services within the scope of their training and legal authority that might otherwise be performed by a physician, which often includes prescribing medication.

 

Registered Nurse or RN RNs are licensed nurses that work under any of the previously mentioned roles. The range of work they do is large. RNs work hands-on with patients, in supervisory roles, and in-patient education. RNs are generally responsible for administering medications to patients in addition to creating a treatment plan in order to promote and restore a patient’s health.

 

Licensed Practical Nurse or LPN:

 

LPNs are licensed nurses that work under the supervision of an RN or a physician. They are responsible for providing basic nursing care. LPNs can routinely carry out the jobs like taking vital signs, doing patient assessments, and administering certain treatments and prescribed medication usually in a skilled facility.  They can delegate certain tasks to CNA’s and Aide’s.

 

Certified Nursing Assistant or CNA CNA’s are certified (by their designated state of practice; not licensed) professionals that focus more on the everyday basic needs of a patient and their ADL’s (bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, mobility, transferring). They can take vital signs and report anything unusual in their routine care to a nurse to assess.

 

Personal Care Aide (PCA) or Home Health Aide (HHA):

 

These are unlicensed workers that have less training typically than a CNA and usually provide non-medical services such as companionship and homemaker services. Depending on agency hiring and the state they work, they may also perform basic self-care tasks for patients.

 

 

How to check on a specific health professional

From time to time, we all need to be able to check on our medical professionals’ credentials and their history. Every state has a database(s) that can be accessed to check on if a particular health professional’s status. In Colorado, utilizing DORA’s (Department of Regulatory Affairs) database, you can check if a health professional has an active license, inactive, suspensions, revocations, disciplinary actions, restrictions, criminal convictions, and malpractice insurance settlements. Visit https://www.colorado.gov/dora.

The Independence Center offers Home Health Care and CNA Training

The Independence Center offers In-Home Health Care to people with disabilities. Call us at 719-471-8181 to find out if you qualify.

Are you interested in training to be a CNA? Learn more about our CNA Training program.

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