Caring for Disability Family Events

Couples Home Design Inspired by Children’s Special Needs

Designed for their two children with special needs, Andy and Jennifer Cibula have just completed construction on their dream home, which took ten years to build and cost $2 million. It’s outfitted with incredible amenities like the ability to control the window blinds, communicate throughout the house using iPads, and adjust the height of counter tops and cabinets, along with touchless faucets, and an advanced alarm system.

The home has an 8-foot-wide entryway, an open-concept kitchen and great room, a full home office, low-voltage LED strips that light the hallways 24/7, and Brazilian teak handrails. Every inch of the home was designed and built for their two sons, 12-year-old David and 16-year-old Joshua, both of whom have disabilities.

The basement has a full gym with ceiling tracks and stability harnesses. There is a vast home media room, a train room, outside basement accessibility, and an elevator to get the boys to every level.

The security system can alert Andy and Jennifer if the boys don’t return to bed. The iPads allow for calls for help to anywhere in the home and easy access to phones, lights, the thermostat, and media entertainment. Touchless faucets help with the boys’ manual dexterity problems. Adjustable cabinets and counter tops are at wheelchair-accessible heights. The gym is designed for physical therapy. The large media room is designed to accommodate wheelchairs.

There is even a wheelchair-level dog wash because the family expects to get a service dog.

The family has weathered almost unimaginable circumstances. Jennifer suffers from lupus, a heart condition, and rheumatoid arthritis. Young Joshua, who had a stroke in utero, has cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, learning disabilities and seizures. Their need for constant care led Andy, a military officer, to change careers so he’d be traveling less.

In 2001, David was born and also has acute cerebral palsy. Josh’s hydrocephalus requires periodic draining of fluid from his brain via a shunt, while David has a pump that he uses to get muscle-loosening medication to his spinal column.

“They are bright children trapped in brains and bodies that don’t work very well,” Jennifer said of her sons.

When the local homeowner’s association refused to allow them to make necessary renovations to their home for disability access, the Cibulas were forced to move. They took up residence in a three-bedroom ranch-style home with an accessible basement and planned to renovate, but they didn’t want their home looking like a hospital. In the end, after many architectural consults, they decided to raze the house and build from the ground up.

The home is designed to be adaptable to David and Josh’s changing needs as they get older and their disability restrictions change.

The home is intricately designed and detailed, and it’s all for the boys. Jennifer says, “Like able-bodied people, they should be able to live their lives to the fullest extent possible,” Jennifer said. “I want people to understand that these are real people—not just kids in a wheelchair to pity. It bothers me most when people feel sorry for them because we feel really lucky to have these children.”

While most of us don’t have $2M to spend on a home like this, some of the home’s accessible features, like touchless faucets, might be simple, lower-cost ways to make your home a more-easily accessible environment. Which of this home’s accessible features would you most want in yours?


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