What are some of the issues when parenting with a disability?
Raising children is challenging under any circumstances, but there can be even bigger challenges for parents with a disability.
In Australia, 1 in 5 people has some type of disability. Your disability might be:
- a physical disability
- an intellectual disability
- a learning difficulty
- a sensory disability
Many people with a disability feel that their parenting is judged because of their disability. This may make it hard to ask for help or support.
How to get support when parenting with a disability
All parents need help to ensure their children thrive. Some parents with a disability will need individual support to help them do what they need to do as parents.
If you’re finding parenting difficult, it’s important that you talk to someone and ask for help.
Many parents with a disability will get support for parenting through:
- their NDIS plan
- healthcare providers, such as psychologists and occupational therapists
- other mainstream supports such as State family and children's services
A supportive community is vital for families.
You may want to consider joining a playgroup, as many parents with disabilities report being isolated. Playgroup Australia has a database that lets you find playgroups near you.
For older children, sport, homework clubs or holiday camps may be helpful.
How do I help my child to understand my disability?
Children are naturally curious and may have a lot of questions about your disability. Talking openly with your child about your disability can help them understand what you can and can’t do. Talking about your disability with your child can also help them to become more caring and empathetic.
As your child grows up, they may become involved in supporting and caring for you. They may help with chores around the house.
Being involved with caring for a parent can help children develop an understanding of responsibilities. It can also lead to higher self-esteem if they feel a sense of worth from their role.
However, research shows that it’s important for young carers to be supported. There are programs available to support young carers and give information and counselling. These services can be accessed by contacting Carer Gateway or calling 1800 422 737.
Where can I get help and support?
The Australian Government supports people with a disability. Parents with a disability can find it hard to use formal support services. But knowing your limitations and planning ahead can help make things easier for you and your children.
Support can make all the difference. You can get support from:
- your partner
- family and friends
- community groups
- disability and social services
Counselling can help you, or other family members and children, get emotional support.
Resources and support
The Positive Parenting Program (Triple P program) provides parents with practical advice on dealing with children’s behavioural issues.
Find out more about support services available for parents with disabilities at:
Speak to a maternal child health nurse
Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.
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Last reviewed: April 2023