It has been a long time since I have posted and talked about how difficult public restrooms are for families with disabilities. With all the bathroom issues in the news lately, it has turned my attention to the issue of public restrooms and special needs. I have seen several pictures floating around social media showing a teenager laying on the floor in a public restroom waiting for his mother to change his diaper. That picture speaks a thousand words.
In 2013, of the US population with disabilities, over half (51.9%) were people ages 18-64. Forty percent (40.3%) of people with disabilities were 65 and older, while children and youth with disabilities accounted for only 7.4% (ages 5-17) and 0.4% (under 5 years old).
I don't know how many of the population needs bathroom assistance. I will have to look into that and find that figure. However, I would guess that there are a good number of people with disabilities that need daily life skills such as bathroom assistance. Not every person that requires bathroom assistance is a small child.
Trenton will be 6 this summer. I have had to battle bathroom issues for the past 3 three years. When he was around three years old, that was when it really started to become a problem. Public restrooms are not designed for people who are not potty trained. Oh sure you can find a pull out table to lay your baby on. However, do you think those tables hold a 50 pound child? Do you think those tables are sturdy enough to hold a child with severe sensory issues who can't stop moving?
The answer is...NO!
For three years I have had to change Trenton's diapers and pull ups with him standing up. I have wiped his bottom with feces hanging off of it while I'm standing up in a tiny bathroom stall that does not allow enough room for a child with severe autism that is a pace and constant mover.
We all know how gross and disgusting public restrooms are. It was always my last resort. I would try anything and everything before I would have to take Trenton in a public restroom because they simply don't meet the needs of a kid who is not toilet trained. If they don't meet the needs of a big kid who isn't potty trained then we know they don't meet the needs of a grown adult who isn't potty trained!
You can betcha that I started thinking three years ago, "How am I going to do this when he is a full grown teenager and/or adult?"
Just another trial and problem that families raising kids with disabilities face daily.
Another bathroom issue is the opposite sex issue. I am a single mother to two boys with autism. I have already had a few looks when I walk into a public restroom with Trenton. Sure, many boys his age are able to walk into the little boys restroom and come out with the job done all by themselves. That is so far in our future that we can't even see that right now! Don't think the issue is just Trenton alone. This issue is Andrew as well,..not because he can't use the restroom on his own, but because he has anxiety issues and will not enter a restroom by himself...not even in the comfort of his own house!
Some places have family restrooms. Some places have unisex restrooms. However, not all do! I have wondered what it will be like when Trenton is a teenage boy that I have to take to a ladies restroom because there is no family restroom. I wonder what will happen? What will others think? Do I care what they think?
NO! However, this is a real issue that needs to be addressed in our society! Children and adults with disabilities who need assistance in daily life skills have a right to a public restroom that meets their needs!