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Thinking Outside the Box During the Pandemic as a Parent With a Disability

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The coronavirus pandemic has made people rethink many different aspects of their lives. The same is true for me, as a parent with a disability. Since becoming a parent, I’ve had to think outside the box when accomplishing different activities to take care of my son. As he has gotten older, some things have become easier while others are new puzzles for me to solve.

When the pandemic began last year, there were many things we still had to get done. The difference was that the new ways to get things done were out of our comfort zone. Some people have found this to be a challenging time. While that’s partially true, I can see many ways the pandemic has made things a little easier for me. In my opinion, it has raised awareness of issues that affect people with disabilities at the same time.

Virtual learning was one new thing introduced in my household. It was an adjustment for my son, but it made things a bit easier for me. Because of my disability, I couldn’t get him to school on my own using the conventional model of him going to school. There were also limited resources to help me. This was one aspect where the pandemic gave me a sense of relief. While my son didn’t get the routine socialization conventional school offers students, it gave us an opportunity to find other ways to be active. Like everyone else, we learned how to use different platforms to interact with family and friends as well.

While it was difficult for me to get essentials due to shortages, a local restaurant was able to get us the few things that were scarce. They were even generous enough to make no-contact deliveries to my house. They were personally familiar with me because of a previous partnership I had started with them years ago. They were eager to help and made what could’ve been a stressful time a lot easier.

Because I don’t use the services of a personal care attendant, I haven’t had the experience of trying to find someone to help with daily needs during the pandemic. I heard about many people struggling with attendants being no-shows at their scheduled times or clients being concerned about whether their regular person was a coronavirus carrier. There should be a better plan to have safe access to personal assistants for those needing help. No one should have to deal with the additional worry that comes with the fear of being unnecessarily exposed to the virus.

Access to doctor appointments became easier for me because of telehealth visits. Doctors are increasingly implementing this option to see patients over a computer screen. It was like the pandemic allowed doctors to take more time with their patients without feeling rushed for their next appointment. Additionally, they are prepared when you need lab tests based on your symptoms. Remote nurses and technicians were dispatched to my house as if they were employees of my primary doctor. Arriving at my house in full pandemic regalia, I felt very much at ease letting them into my home for the appointment. The same was true when we recently ventured out during a face-to-face appointment for my son. The staff at the office were more meticulous than normal about the visit while following safety guidelines.

While I’d already been using an online grocery service to get my shopping done, because of the increased popularity of the service, I had to juggle my schedule around to get our weekly essentials delivered on time. I came up with a plan to place the order the night before the scheduled delivery time. Luckily, the service still proved to be beneficial while maintaining their commitment to safe deliveries and quality customer service.

The pandemic has changed our way of life and raised awareness of issues that are important to the disability community. It has also made people become better planners by giving us situations we’ve needed to learn to overcome. Hopefully, we can all take what we’ve learned and continue moving forward with these ideas. I believe this will help make the lives of people with disabilities easier while allowing us increased opportunities for further independence.

Getty image by John Rowley.

Originally published: March 22, 2021
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