Things to Consider When Designing a Home for a Disabled Child


As the parent of a child with disabilities, it falls upon you to ensure that the home in which you live is one where your child can thrive. Most homes are not designed with disabled children in mind, so you may be like tens of thousands of parents out there who are either renovating their current home or having a new one built that will meet the needs of their child. No matter what kind of disability your child is diagnosed with, there will almost always be special needs in home design. Let’s look at some of those needs.

Mobility Impairment in Children

This is, by far, the biggest factor in custom home design for children with disabilities. Children diagnosed with conditions which don’t render them at least partially impaired have special needs in home design, however, the most extensive modifications are for those who are unable to walk unaided. For children with mobility impairment, the home will need such things as:

  • Ramps on any stairs leading to the home

  • Rails in bathrooms

  • Larger than average areas to maneuver in

  • Lifts and elevators if the bedrooms are all on the second floor

These types of design features would be best suited to children with moderate to severe mobility impairments.

Two Major Conditions Leading to Mobility Impairment

Two of the major conditions ultimately responsible for mobility issues in children are cerebral palsy and atlantoaxial instability. While you are probably familiar with cerebral palsy, atlantoaxial instability may be a new term for you. If you are a parent with a child diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome, you may need to understand that approximately 15 percent of children born with Down’s Syndrome suffer from atlantoaxial instability ranging from mild to severe.

If you are the parent of a child suffering from atlantoaxial instability and new to this diagnosis, you would be best served to read more about this condition to better understand how best to care for your child. In either case, you will need to design a home where your child has room to move about if mobility aids are needed.

Homes for Disabled Children without Mobility Impairment

Then there are children with other diagnoses which don’t leave them physically impaired, but they remain disabled nonetheless. Such conditions as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or autism will also need to be considered when designing a home for children with disabilities. From a psychological or emotional perspective, even children who aren’t at least partially immobile will need large, airy rooms in which they don’t feel confined.

In fact, these two diagnoses often lead children to hyperactivity, and for this reason, careful consideration should be given to providing the extra room necessary for their comfort. Also, some children function better based on the colors they are surrounded with, while others thrive better in rooms which are bright and cheerful. Always work with your contractor when designing or renovating a home for children with special needs. You know your child and so it is imperative that you see to their every need.