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Parenting with a disability

4-minute read

Key facts

  • As a parent with a disability, you may have some trouble with everyday tasks.
  • Getting support from your family, friends and formal support services is important.
  • Talking openly with your child about your disability helps them understand what you can and can’t do.

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:

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:

  • NDIS — webchat or phone 1800 800 110
  • Parentline in your state or territory

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.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: April 2023


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Need more information?

Parenting with intellectual disability | Raising Children Network

Having an intellectual disability doesn’t mean you can’t be a good parent. It just means that you might need extra support to raise your children.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Physical disability & parenting | Raising Children Network

If you’re parenting with a physical disability, you and your children are probably very good at finding creative ways to overcome everyday challenges.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Intellectual disability: children & teens | Raising Children Network

Intellectual disability is a reduced ability to think and to learn new skills. Here’s how to get support for children and teens with intellectual disability.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Down syndrome in children: a guide | Raising Children Network

Down syndrome causes intellectual disability and other challenges. Early intervention can help children with Down syndrome reach their full potential.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Interventions and Therapies - Cerebral Palsy Alliance

Cerebral Palsy Alliance is a non-profit that provides services to thousands of people with a disability and their families. Cerebral palsy (CP) is a physical disability that affects the way that a person moves.

Read more on Cerebral Palsy Alliance website

Developmental delay in children | Raising Children Network

Developmental delay is when a child is slower to reach milestones than other children of that age. Read how to get help if you’re worried about your child.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

CPA Telepractice - Cerebral Palsy Alliance

Cerebral Palsy Alliance is a non-profit that provides services to thousands of people with a disability and their families. Cerebral palsy (CP) is a physical disability that affects the way that a person moves.

Read more on Cerebral Palsy Alliance website

Parenting & Disability - Supporting Siblings | Siblings Australia

Resources for parents of siblings of children with a disability to assist them in supporting the sibling relationship.

Read more on Siblings Australia website

Positive parenting to help a child with a disability | Stepping Stones Triple P | Triple P

Help your child with a disability or developmental delay reach their potential with Stepping Stones Triple P.

Read more on Triple P - Positive Parenting Program website

Talking About Disability & More - Support from Parents | Siblings Australia

Understand the challenges siblings of children with a disability face and the different signs of stress. Talk to us today.

Read more on Siblings Australia website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

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