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Parenting corner – Caring for a child using a wheelchair

Parenting is not easy and comes with a lot of mistakes made, lessons to learn, joys and tears. Worrying is a part of life for every parent although challenges increase if the child has disability.

Children who use wheelchairs due to physical or medical conditions need more care than others. Children using wheelchairs may have limited mobility, however, that does not take away the fact that they are after all children.

Like all children they also need to grow mentally and physically into happier adults with the love and support of parents, friends and family.

Parents who have young kids with disabilities and use wheelchairs could be from slums, towns, villages or cities in India. Considering that our social welfare as well as social infrastructure is not wheelchair friendly it becomes important for them to source lightweight, folding wheelchairs, calipers which is easy for them to also manage. Washrooms, bedrooms and other spaces too need to be adapted. As there is no homogeneous homes built in India its quite a challenge for the parents and many times have to carry their children around. - Dr Ketna L Mehta, Founder-Trustee Nina Foundation

There are a few things that can make life a bit easier for the children and parents.

Accessibility- Parents can ensure that the home is accessible for the children who move around on wheelchairs. Simple modifications can be made to help the children to have better mobility such as ramps, hand railings, wider doors, a well-lit surrounding, switches and cabinets at low heights, accessible bathroom/toilets, and kitchen. These changes will not only keep the children safe but also give them the opportunity to explore on their own.

Support group - being part of a group that has people with similar conditions can have a very positive impact. To know that there are other people going through similar lives can help feel stronger.

Good friends - Friends can make life better by being there to listen, support or have a good time with. Having a few good friends is as important for parents as is for children with disabilities.

Sports - There are a lot of sports and games that children in wheelchairs can be a part of. Parents can encourage the children to take interest in sports, as it is beneficial for their mental and physical health. Swimming, tennis, basketball, softball are there, apart from games like chess, table tennis and many more.

Being positive - To remain positive in face of challenges and difficulties in life is important for a peaceful existence. Be thankful for what you have and count blessings.

Be proud - Don't worry about your impression on other people. It is impossible to make others happy at all time and is better to focus on your own happiness and that of your child. Keep your head high and maintain the dignity of your child at all times.

Build confidence- Teaching the children to be confident is very important for them to thrive and be happy. Help build their self-esteem so that they don't feel isolated and any less than other children.

Dream - Motivate children to have aspirations in life. It is important to have goals and dreams that keep us going forward. Through love, affection and positive motivation, parents can help children set aims and then work towards them.

"Parents should let the children explore their wheelchairs to make them feel more comfortable and confident in using them. Latest wheelchairs come with technology that makes it easy for the child to move around however, their safety needs to be ensured by caretakers", says Asha Prajapati, homemaker and wheelchair user.


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