I want to share with you a great source of stress for me…..
My son Stalen is almost 8 years old, he is autistic and non-speaking. He also has several medical complexities. He requires assistance to go to the bathroom. He also has an ileostomy bag which has specific care and maintenance procedures. Public washrooms are also a great sensory challenge for him because of the noise of toilets flushing and hand dryers-another reason why he requires assistance.
The challenge with public washrooms are that many are not friendly or inclusive to a mother accompanying her 8 year old son. Most public washrooms are clearly labelled with signage and separated by sex.
What bathroom do we choose?
Do I just swiftly walk into the men’s washroom with him and hope for the best?
Do I put him through the humiliation-stares, glares, snickers and comments that taking him into the female washroom may warrant.
You may think that it’s no big deal but many people are cruel, confrontational, and think they have the right to police others especially if they think your “breaking the rules”.
Taking my son to the bathroom should not be an exercise in public shame and humiliation for us.
What will the future hold for us if/when he requires washroom assistance as a tall teenage boy and as a grown man?
I am so thankful for those places that offer a “family washroom” option or have come up with a creative way to make their washrooms more inclusive and accessible to individuals with a caregiver. We just need more inclusive washrooms.
I want to live in a world where everyone, (including individuals who require caregiver assistance) can go to the washroom with dignity, free from judgement and discrimination.
….I don’t think I’m asking for too much.