Caring for a child in a wheelchair

Posted by iChild, June 28, 2017 5:35 PM

By The Next Best Thing to Mummy

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When I was a registered child minder I had the honour of looking after several children with special educational needs.

Mary is one of these children who comes to mind. She was born with several medical issues, which meant that she was unable to walk.

When I first minded her, Mary was approximately 18 months old and wore what I can only describe as old-fashioned metal callipers on her legs. Her mum asked me to try to get Mary to wear these for a maximum of three hours at a time, as any longer would cause rubbing, making her skin sore.

I remember one occasion when I took all three of the children in my care to a toddler group. We drove and then I carried Mary inside (she was too small yet for a wheelchair). She was wearing her leg supports when she arrived to my house and had had them on for two hours already, so an hour into the session it was time to remove them. To do this she had to lie on her back on the floor, and while I was unbuckling the straps a group of children gathered round all wanting to know what I was doing. I believe that children should be told the truth in order for them to learn, so I explained as simply as I could that Mary’s legs were not as strong as theirs so she needed the splints to help make them stronger. This seemed to go down well as several of the children went away to tell their mothers all about it.

I pretty much treated Mary the same as the other children in my care as far as possible, adapting some activities to enable her to take part. For example, when the children were going through a phase of racing each other, I took them to the park, and so that Mary didn’t miss out I ran along pushing her wheelchair (now she had grown) alongside the children. Mary screamed with delight and held out her arms pretending she was flying in an aeroplane. I have written a post on planning activities to suit  everyone in my blog.  When we went to the children’s play equipment, I sat Mary in front of me on the sea-saw, carried her up the steps to the slide and slid down together. The other children laughed as they thought that I was too big to go on the slide!

Once, after Mary had gone home, one of my own children told me that he had been afraid of her when he first saw her. But witnessing me treating her just like the other children gave him the confidence to do the same. 

Mary was a happy child who didn’t seem to let her disability stop her from enjoying life. I no longer look after for Mary, but I keep in touch with her mother who informs me that she is doing well and can now walk a few steps with the aid of her leg splints. 

My advice to anyone who is going to be caring for a disabled child is to try to treat them as they would an able-bodied child, which will help with fitting into the group. Also, working in partnership with parents is vital. Seeing the child be confident and happy is one of my most rewarding experiences.

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By The Next Best Thing to Mummy

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