By Guest Blogger, Annie Blair from Tiny House Wisdom
It is an unfortunate reality for so many families these days that rates of Autism and other Spectrum diseases are incredibly common. Many children suffer from a host of other physical and mental ills that leave families grasping at ways to cope and do the very best they can for ailing children.
Tiny Houses are not only cute, but they are inherently adaptable to a variety of circumstances. Much has
been said about the use of these homes as a way to help the aging. Many place them in the backyard of relatives and this practice has been discussed at length on other sites, so I will not address that here. They have also been used for therapy cottages for children who need stimulation and productive play. But the possibilities do not end there. These diminutive structures are easily used to meet the needs of children with physical and mental handicaps, or even mental illness.
First of all, for a family struggling to house, clothe and feed children of special needs, tiny houses are a financially excellent choice, costing pennies on the dollar when compared to traditional housing. Many families chose not to send their kids to live in institutions due to high rates of abuse and rape. They often find that the cost of dealing with a host of ills at home is beyond the scope of their resources, both financial and physical.
Secondly, tiny houses are frequently mobile. This helps to ensure the flexibility of environments should parents need to change environs or climate to meet the needs of a sick child without having to buy or sell anything. You could live in Florida for two years, and then return to Wisconsin, for example, and instead of rent, etc, you would only have the cost to tow it. The child could stay in his or her own environment for stability. Think of how that could help in a situation where a family lives a good distance from institutions that specialize in their type of disease. This would enable the family to travel for an extended stay somewhere else, in order to see specialists or participate in studies before they returned to their home state.
Thirdly, Tiny Houses are flexible in terms of structure, or what you chose to include. As previously noted here in Tiny House Myth #1, these can be used as “PODS” with plug-in sections that can change and grow with the child and needs of the family. For example, you may have a child who would benefit from a therapy room outfitted with various tactile stimuli, or activity of daily living play areas. Sometimes children with severe early onset types of mental illness become so violent, parents find they need to keep other children in separate quarters for their own safety. This could be built fairly inexpensively, and removed or re-designed as the need changes.
Tiny Houses are not all about lofts. For the elderly or mentally handicapped, one level care cottages are popular, and these can be used in a grouping. Mentally ill children and their families could live in a communal lot where each family had its own Tiny House. In the middle of the shared land, there could be a center where the kids receive therapies and other specialty learning geared toward them. This could also include areas for animal therapies where that would be appropriate. The families could pool resources to pay for respite and other types of interventions that could be provided by professionals that are too costly individually.
Fourthly, Tiny Houses are often low toxicity. For children suffering from allergies, tiny homes are frequently made from reclaimed wood with little to no off gassing or other types of pollutants that most try to eschew when building tiny. It is possible that even milder forms of childhood onset mental illnesses could be lessened by the tiny house with lower environmental toxins,
And finally, financially strapped families of children with special needs would benefit from being free of rent and mortgage. Having more free time to spend with the children instead of devising ways to bring in more and more cash as prices rise would be the greatest benefit of all. These parents are often so exhausted trying to make ends meet and still “be there” for their kids that they are worn out from the “lifestyle”.
As you see, the possibilities are endless and do not require government grants to achieve. Tiny Houses can be built by hand, (a learning experience in itself for those children to whom it would apply), and adapted on a case by case basis. They are affordable and flexible, and I think are a great potential to address needs of the children who are not being helped by existent services
For more articles by Anne Blair, visit Tiny House Wisdom