This text was written by Marjorie Aunos, and initially appeared within the version of DABC’s Transition journal, Parenting with Disabilities (Spring 2023). Learn the difficulty right here.

Photo of Marjorie Aunos. She has medium-length wavy brown hair, dark glasses, and is sitting in her wheelchair outdoors.

For those who’re focused on contributing to Transition as a person or a company, please electronic mail

January 5, 2012 was my birthday. Not my actual birthday, however my second probability. On a rustic highway, my automotive slid on black ice. It solely took just a few seconds. I turned paraplegic after I sustained a Spinal Twine Harm at a T2 Stage.

As a single mum or dad, my final thought earlier than influence was for my son Thomas, who was solely 16 months previous on the time.

I knew instantly my life would not be because it was. I used to be scared I couldn’t be the mother I had dreamed of being.

However, I knew parenting with a incapacity was attainable. I knew this as a result of, as a psychologist, I had seen a whole bunch of mothers and dads with an mental incapacity do it. The willpower and love they’d proven had impressed me to turn out to be a single mother by alternative.

Certainly, I believed, they might additionally encourage me to battle via each internalized ableist thought I had about my very own parenting. Ideas like, “If I can’t run after him, how can I convey him to the park?” “How can I be a mother if I can’t drive him to high school or put him to mattress or meet his lecturers on parent-teacher evening resulting from lack of accessibility?”

If I knew many mothers with mental or developmental disabilities, I knew nobody with a bodily incapacity or mobility limitation who was a mum or dad.

I had no psychological pictures of the way it may very well be finished. I additionally had no thought tips on how to mum or dad at a distance, whereas I used to be six months in rehabilitation, and my son was being cared for by my mother and father.

My educational {and professional} data of parenting with a incapacity additionally created plenty of insecurity. I knew the discrimination mother and father with mental incapacity face, the dearth of inclusion and the over-representation in baby welfare, typically with a scarcity of proof.

I knew I would want to advocate for myself as a mum or dad, and for my baby, at each stage of his growth. My fears have been validated eight months after my accident when the “Rocking the Cradle” report got here out within the US. It checked out parenting with every kind of disabilities and the disparities folks face: poverty, lack of tailored housing, lack of assets and companies which can be accessible, unfavourable and ableist attitudes in direction of their parenting, and typically custody battles and intimate associate violence.

To make sure I may very well be accessible for my son when he wanted me, all of the whereas studying about what my physique might and will not do, we moved right into a home with two flats. My mother and father moved into one condo so that they may very well be close by to assist out.

For security, my mother gave Thomas his baths, whereas I supervised and managed the entire endeavour. I’d say, “Grandma, Thomas performed within the sand right this moment, so he wants us to shampoo his hair” and she or he would carry out the duty.

When he would get up through the evening, she would come down from her condo, decide him up from his mattress and hand him to me in mine. She would wait patiently whereas I cared for him. When he lastly fell again to sleep, she picked him up from my arms and set him again into his mattress.

As Thomas grew in bodily autonomy, much less and fewer co-parenting was wanted. As I now mum or dad a youngster, the assist I require is what another mum or dad wants: methods to cope with the rolling of the eyes!

Since I didn’t have one other mother on wheels to be taught from after my accident, I made a decision to put in writing my tales. I wished different ladies to see what it might seem like.

I additionally produced an occasion known as Amplifying Voices of Dad and mom with Disabilities, so I might join with different mother and father with disabilities. Irrespective of if our incapacity is identical or completely different, seeing different mother and father with a “completely different” stance normalized my actuality and expertise.

Being a part of a group of fogeys with disabilities has empowered me greater than I can say. And, as a result of discovering companies or helps locally for fogeys with disabilities was onerous to do whereas parenting a younger baby, I’m working with a few of my colleagues to make sure a useful resource information might be accessible sooner or later. You may see just a few of those assets on web page 20.

I’ve now been utilizing a wheelchair for eleven years. Eleven years of challenges and struggles, however largely eleven years of happiness and reminiscences. I’m a mother on wheels and I’m actively parenting my 12-year-old son.

Over this previous decade, I’ve seen him develop into a gorgeous younger man who’s type, artistic and social justice pushed. He and I are one of the best group there’s.

Some Statistics

In Canada, 12% of girls report a practical limitation (Statistiques Canada, 2018).

In Québec, it’s estimated that 4.8% of households with a toddler beneath the age of 18 has a mum or dad with a incapacity (Mercerat et Saïas, 2020). In the US, the estimate is 6.2% (NDC, 2012) which is usually thought-about an enormous underestimation. A 3rd have a bodily limitation.

You should purchase the e-book, Mother on Wheels: The Energy of Objective as a Father or mother with Paraplegia, at

Marjorie Aunos, Ph.D. is a single-mother-by-choice dwelling with a Spinal Twine Harm. She is a famend Psychologist and Researcher within the subject of Parenting with Disabilities and an Award-Successful Inspirational Speaker.


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