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Ideas for a Maura-able house

31 May

This is the fifteenth installment of the story of our journey with Maura…

Recently, I’ve given thought to how to make a house more Maura accessible.  A recent incident made us realize that the girls sharing a room is no longer a feasible option – Miriam has just outgrown Maura too much, Maura needs a safe environment, and it’s just not that fair to ask Miriam to live in what will essentially be a baby-proofed environment at the age of almost 13.

Not that Miriam has complained….too much.  She’s put up with most of it quite nicely.

But I’ve found myself thinking how it would be nice to have a Maura friendly house.

And it made me realize – I have no clue what that is.

When you think of a handicapped accessible house, you think wheelchair access.  Ramps and strategically placed bars, wider hallways and doorways.  But there’s not a lot out there on how to make a house friendlier for the mentally handicapped.   Oh, there are those who’ve remodeled their basement family rooms into an indoor playground/sensory room, and that’s cool.  I would love that!

But I’m talking about modifying for every day living.

There’s the obvious – nail everything to the walls and floors, hide all the scissors, don’t leave your lipsticks out.

Where do you go after that?

We want Maura to be able to fend for herself in the house.  Our goal is to get her as independent as possible, which means we have to allow her access to certain things.  And we already have the mindset of “Will this work for Maura?” when we buy stuff – like her bed?  When we bought her “big girl bed”, we got one at Ikea, that’s low like a toddler bed.  So if she fell out, well, it’s only a few inches to the ground, no harm done.  We’ve been making sure our recent car purchases are ones she can easily climb into herself.  Just yesterday, I was singing the praises of Gap Kids jeggings, which are made with denim so look like jeans, but with elastic waists, so easy for Maura to pull on and off.

It really is sometimes the little things that can make a big difference.

So I’ve been compiling a mental wish list, of what would be great in a Maura-proof house.

1. a self-closing refrigerator door.  Maura can get into the fridge, but then always leaves the door open.  Always.

2. an easy-to-flush toilet.  We’ve discovered with potty training that those little flipper toilet handles are hard for her to work.  Here in Ireland, there are lots of toilets with a push button flushing system.  That would probably work better – though even then, I’m not sure.  Push buttons are not Maura’s forte.

3. Lots of built ins, like shelves and cabinets and drawers.  The more it’s built in, the less stuff we have to nail to a wall.

4. No carpeting.  No, my dream home will have lots of easy to clean wood floors.  Wood floors are also a little more forgiving when you drop a plate on it.  Unlike my currently ceramic tiled kitchen floor (which kills Fiestaware and stoneware pans.)

5. A hair-washing sink.  You know, like the salon ones?  Because it would be nice if Maura could bathe herself, but I think she’ll need help washing her hair for a long time. So a salon sink, where I could wash her hair separately would be kind of cool.  Couple that with an accessible shower/tub, where she could go clean herself, with handles she can use and temperature controls so she would never scald herself?  Yes, that would be nice.

6. Her own desk area, with all the paper, pens, play dough, iPod docking station, etc.  So she stops stealing all my desk stuff and her siblings homework stuff, and maybe will learn the meaning of “charging the iPad”.  Oh, and it will all be easy to clean.

7. Lots of rounded corners on everything and the least amount of stairs as possible.  Between my two girls (one who fell through a five inch gap in the railings at 16 months and fell down to the first floor (she’s perfectly fine) and Maura falling down stairs and getting a lump that was bigger than a real goose egg) well, I’m not a huge fan of steep stairs and railings and anything someone could fall over or down.

8. A conservatory with a swing.  Because…why not?  And because Maura does love being outside, but it’s not always ideal to be outside, so this would give her the feeling of being outside…and a swing!

9. One of those big couches with the chaise lounge end- because Maura loves to snuggle, and I like to be comfortable, and those two things don’t always happen.

10.  A completely fenced in yard that Maura can’t get out of.  We have that right now and it’s heaven.

Some of these I can make a reality sooner than later.  But others, well, they may just be pipe dreams, but hey, if you’re going to dream, dream big!

(maybe that conservatory can also come with a unicorn.  She’d like a unicorn.  And a penguin.  She’d adore a penguin!)

what happens when Maura plays quietly in her room with the windows with no screen - dolls try to escape.

what happens when Maura plays quietly in her room with the windows with no screen – dolls try to escape.

What would you do in your house to make it ideal for your needs?  I think Maura’s siblings would all ask for locks on their doors, so Maura can’t get into their stuff 😉

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17 Responses to “Ideas for a Maura-able house”

  1. Virginia Guynn May 31, 2013 at 7:03 am #

    Have you thought about creating a page on a web site like Give Forward? You might be able to get a lot of help that way. Just a thought…

    • phoebz4 May 31, 2013 at 7:36 am #

      I’ve never heard of that site…but I shall look it up. Thanks!

      • Marci (@TheMarciFactor) May 31, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

        There’s also gofundme, I’m using it right now to try to get a PTSD service dog for my husband.

      • Denise May 31, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

        Marci, I researched funding for my husband’s PTSD dog, and we found the Gift of Sunshine who helped us pay for his dog. They support specific dog trainers.
        The Gift of Sunshine, Inc. http://www.thegiftofsunshine.org

      • Marci (@TheMarciFactor) May 31, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

        Thanks Denise…I am looking at it now. The thing with us is, my husband URGENTLY needs something soon. His PTSD has gotten so bad that I’m at the end of my rope.

      • Denise May 31, 2013 at 7:23 pm #

        Marci, the trick for us was to find a trainer that had a dog ready to go, the funding just seemed to work its self out.

  2. Denise May 31, 2013 at 7:21 am #

    Your ideas are great. One suggestion, don’t put laminate floors, they are NOT forgiving like wood and because the “float” above the slab when you drop ANYTHING it is loud, easy to sweep but dustier than I could ever have imagined.

    • phoebz4 May 31, 2013 at 7:36 am #

      Good points. I’d want real hardwood anyway – but not the new trend of putting grooves between each board. No thank you! LOL!

  3. p3c57h3r May 31, 2013 at 9:24 am #

    I agree about the fridge although I don’t understand why they haven’t designed a sophisticated lock that you could add on as an accessory (not the crappy child safety versions) and the loo too Built ins are great as long as they don’t go too high and all the cool stuff is either ‘locked away’ or not on the top shelves, mine’s a climber, likes to perch on top of things. I agree carpeting is a NIGHTMARE, you should see our 2nd floor. We have though decided to redo our basement and I refuse to have carpet, wood, laminate anything that will absorb pee and food spills so we are going for polished concrete or vinyl tiles and area rugs (which can be thrown in the washing machine or the garbage). With falls from seizures the impact on hardwood, carpeted floor or concrete is all the same as it’s the other things they hit on their way down! And in the kitchen we have the same tiles that have broken all the things that have fallen out of hands so in there we are going for fancy vinyl tiles. Check this out: http://www.karndeancanada.com/ We also had one of ours fall backwards downstairs at 8 months so I’m a freak about when any of them are on the stairs, but now that they’re all bigger we’ve found that when a fall happens off the stairs that doesn’t have banisters they’re less bruised – how weird to make this sound so normal! Our big G (as I call her) would swing through the roof if we gave her an indoor swing (I just raised this with my hubby and was shot down in flames!) – but you should check out IKEA’s globular swing if they still sell it as it’s very sensory and doesn’t go too high. TOTALLY agree about the chaise lounge, especially as we have a great snuggler! As for the unicorn – we’re trying to find an old carousel horse to install in a corner in the basement for her to sit on while watch telly or just to be on as live horses are not an option sadly. As for the sibs, mine feel Miriam’s pain and have learned to hide things in multiple labelled boxes which as G can’t read seems to have her fooled!

  4. myplace2spu May 31, 2013 at 11:21 am #

    The sensory stuff has really been ideal for our home. I have made the boys each their own body sock out of swimsuit materiel from the fabric store and I also bought a few extra yards so I could make a sling type swing out of it. I installed closet dowels to the frame of their bedroom doors and that’s where we put up the sling swing to hang out in. its easy up and easy take down.

  5. Marci (@TheMarciFactor) May 31, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

    As far as the self-closing refrigerator. It may drive your other kids crazy, but have you thought of having your regular refrigerator just “not level”? If you look at the bottom of most refrigerators, there’s knobs where you can adjust them to make them level. Either that or just add an extra washer on one of the hinges (I would have to work it out either top or bottom) to make it uneven, so that the door swings shut by itself…Yeah it may be a pain when you’re trying to get something big in the fridge, but think of all the stuff that won’t spoil because the door is open? Just my two cents!

  6. babazoobee May 31, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    I wonder if you could install a small screen door closer on the top of a fridge door? currently our fridge needs a lock or alarm on it.. my little one lives in the fridge! (not literally.. don’t call CAS) as do all of the doors of our house (alarms that is) little bit of a runner…. a self flushing toilet would be great.. we already splurged and got the slow closing toilet seat!
    we have a bedroom hammock and swing chair, and a basement swing as well as a trike in the basement (not much room to trike down there but it doesn’t stop her……) everything bolted to the walls is good….. we could use cat doors on every door.. so we could close does for sound and privacy without the cats going ballistic about being kept out our in…

    • Nanci Karvonen Willits May 31, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

      You shared my Idea for the toilet! Auto-flush seems to be the way to go for public toilets here in FL. Which I suppose is good for making sure they DO get flushed, but not so great for a freaking out preschooler trying to pee before it goes whoosh! LOL. FWIW…my new Samsung fridge does have an alarm with it, and it works great with my lazy teens. 🙂

  7. Amanda Sheahan May 31, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

    There are shower and bath faucets (at least in America, I didn’t check the European sites) that let you pre-set the water temperature that comes out of your shower and bathtub spigots. I first ran into them in an apartment we rented. They were there because water was included in the rent and these things are huge water savers. (The Chicago Faucets people seemed to have a nice one that didn’t involve too much digital technology.) You can also lower your hot water tank’s temperature to keep the temperature from being dangerously high. You’ll find the information on these faucets and how to control the water tank’s temperatures under “water conservation” and “energy conservation,” which strikes me as a little nuts, as it seems to me that keeping people from scalding themselves should be a high priority in any household. As for washing Maura’s hair, when I was a kid I was completely paranoid about getting water in my eyes – to this day I can shower and keep my face almost completely dry. My Mom’s solution was to lay me on the kitchen counter and use the spray attachment on the kitchen sink. Not the most graceful solution, but anything else had a way of escalating into a conflict that could involve UN Peacekeepers. When it comes to floors, I have laminate floors and I love them. A wipe and a dust and you’re done. Laminate’s like most things; you get what you pay for. The cheap stuff is, well, cheap. But with the higher quality, we’ve had ours for 9 years and haven’t been able to wreck it yet, which is more than I can say for any other flooring we’ve ever had. You have to be tough to live in my world.

  8. Amy S. June 1, 2013 at 8:21 am #

    I want that salon sink for hair washing! My 12 yo daughter loves to take showers, I often have to tell her 3 times is enough for one day, but she never gets her hair right. I often have to go back with her to wash out shampoo or to make sure the top part of her head gets washed.

  9. dizneesmurf June 1, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

    I know a family that has a pull knob on the top of the toilet tank for flushing. That might work better than the flipper or push knob for Maura.

  10. hermitageno8 June 2, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    I have found the combination of laminate floors and a labrador deals well with dropped food! We have a chair which fits over the bath where I can sit my daughter under the shower and wash her hair without kneeling/ straining my back, our OT got it for us. Our electric shower also has a temperature limiter on it so no scalding. What I need is some way of stopping my daughter climbing onto the dining table at every opportunity. For someone who can’t walk she is very quick and mobile!

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