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"I'm a crawling mummy": how one disabled mum looks after her son

Emma Tracey Emma Tracey | 11:30 UK time, Friday, 8 March 2013

Laura with son Jonathan on her lap

Laura got alternative parenting ideas from a support network

Laura Miller lives in Glasgow with her husband and 13 month old Jonathan. As Mother's Day approaches, the wheelchair-using mum explains how she cares for her little boy who she cannot carry.

"I do most of my parenting sitting down," says Laura. She can transfer from her chair to the floor and move around after her son on her hands and knees. But because she can't pick him up while standing, she's had to find other ways of getting Jonathan to where she wants him to be in the house.

At bedtime, Laura lures Jonathan to where his cot is by switching off all lights in places she doesn't want him to be, leaving on only the light in his room. Sometimes she crawls through the house with him, squeaking a noisy toy to grab his attention and make him follow.

The self-declared "crawling mummy" is in no doubt who is faster on four limbs and has the bruises to prove it. She is confident Jonathan's not upset that he's not carried because she makes it fun getting from place to place.

Laura can pick her child up and hold him while sitting down.

When outside, she obviously wouldn't want her son to crawl behind her in the street. So when getting ready, she coaxes him over with her voice and, when he's close to her powerchair, she can reach him and put him on her lap; he then sits nicely protected in a baby carrier strapped to Laura's middle while they're away from home.

"Children do tune in to what you're doing," she says. "He'll run to his dad to get him to lift him up ... but he won't do it with me."

Laura makes sure she is "super ready" for every possible situation and believes she has become an amazing problem-solver. "That is the unique property of a disabled parent," she says. "We have to do it at a higher level and that's why we need encouragement from other parents because, obviously, that can get exhausting. You need people to keep cheering you on and feeding you ideas."

In Laura's case, the support came from the Disabled Parents Network, for mums and dads with a disability or health condition. She credits DPN with teaching her the strategies she uses, and other examples of what she calls "alternative parenting".

The Glasgow mum is now a volunteer for the organisation, helping other disabled parents herself. She says: "I think it's really important to let parents know that they're not on their own."

• Laura Miller was speaking with Liz Carr and Rob Crossan on the latest disability talk show from Ouch!

Listen to the interview in full on the latest show which you can download to your MP3 player or hear online.

You can follow Ouch! on Twitter and on Facebook.

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