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 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 😉