A Wheel-Life Dad

Aaron Baker
Spinal Cord Injury Lifestyle Specialist | Shield HealthCare
01/03/24  8:00 AM PST
father with a spinal cord injury

Parenting With A Disability

December 26, 2023, marks three years of being a Dad! I have learned so much more about myself, our daughter, and how I view the world in just these first few years. As we leap into 2024, I would like to share some of the challenges, triumphs and wisdom I have learned as a parent… with a spinal cord injury.

When our daughter, Cayla, was placed in my arms the evening she was born, my injury no longer mattered. Any fear or hesitation I had faded away as soon as I looked into her eyes. She didn’t know what a parent “should” look like. It lit a new fire inside me of imagination and ingenuity on how I can be a hands-on parent without the full function of my limbs. You can read more about our beginning experiences as being parents here: www.shieldhealthcare.com/community/spinal-cord-injury/2022/08/16/parenting-with-a-spinal-cord-injury/.

From the very beginning, I was able to get involved with feedings and comforting her thanks to the Dock-a-Tot. Cradling devices and accessories were crucial in the first ten months, before she became too mobile. When she started scooting, standing and walking, Cayla had a red walker, just like Daddy. We bonded over our shared assistive devices and our differences didn’t seem so vast. Now she’s running faster than I can push in my chair – she is my road buddy! In my wheelchair, she hops on my lap for a ride… On my walker, she sits in the seat as I walk to the dining room table… On my electric scooter, she stands on the board as the captain… and my cane is used to reach the toys that have rolled under the couch.

Being a parent has also taught me a new, deeper level of patience. It’s already a mental exercise every moment of every day when my body doesn’t cooperate… then, add in a toddler who can’t yet comprehend the concept of time or waiting. It has taught us both adaptability, compromise and compassion. My hope is to instill in Cayla perseverance and strength, especially when faced with people and circumstances that are not favorable to accessibility. Social misconceptions about disabilities and parenting can lead to discrimination, and my wife and I hope to change that notion for Cayla’s generation.

Being a parent is something we can all relate to on some level – either by being one or being raised by one. Regardless of ability levels, we all have a different way of doing it. Gentle parenting, hands-off parenting, helicopter parenting, etc… We are all just doing what we believe is in the best interest of the child.

My wife and I are approaching this role as parents with a unique perspective and adaptability that can widen Cayla’s view on people and the world. While challenges still exist and we don’t get it right every time, the triumphs serve as a reminder of the barriers we are breaking and the narrative we are trying to shape differently.

In Health,

Aaron Baker

Upcoming Webinars
Get Started with Shield HealthCare
Why am I always sore after removing my intermittent catheter?
I, too, used to experience soreness due to catheter insertion and removal. I attributed this to the fact that I was inserting the catheter hose into very delicate tissue...


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *