Parenting on wheels

Parenting on wheels

ATLANTA (Ivanhoe Newswire/WTVM) -- Life can change in an instant. A car crash, a violent crime, even a sudden sports injury can leave someone in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. For women who are moms, it may be tough to envision ways to maintain parental authority while coping with a physical disability. But with a lot of determination and planning — families can thrive.

Kelley Simoneaux, a 30-year old Atlanta attorney, has been in a wheelchair since she was 16.

"I was a passenger, a back, middle passenger in an SUV that ran into a tree" Simoneaux explains.

She met her husband Bradlee when they were in college. A family was always part of the plan. Parenting from a wheelchair was never a concern.

"We've just found different ways to make it work" she says.

At the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Occupational Therapists show patients how to re-enter their lives.

Jennifer Long, Occupational Therapist at the Shepherd Center says, "When moms are coming out of therapy initially, they might not be able to do everything completely independently."

Therapists say it's important to ask for help from another adult. A child should not step into a caregiver role. Even though a child may tower over a parent in a wheelchair — it's crucial to maintain authority. Discipline may take some problem-solving.

"You're in trouble. We're going into the living room. You're sitting on the floor. I'm still above you" Long explains.

Simoneaux says in many ways she's lucky. She and daughter Mary Brooks are learning together since a mom on wheels is all Mary Brooks knows.

Major rehabilitation centers, like Shepherd Center, also coach parents in wheelchairs about household and equipment modifications that can make life with kids easier — everything from side-opening cribs, to baby carriers — and tools that are perfect for easily opening jars of food.

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