Strange topic for a blog? Not really. We all need toilets.
Not all disabilities are visible.
This phrase should be on the outside of every disabled toilet. There are many ‘invisible’ disabilities, autism being just one of them. Have you ever come out of a disabled toilet accompanied by your child to be glared at by someone who obviously thinks you just used it because it meant you didn’t have to queue?
Did you apologise and try to justify why you needed to use that toilet?
I still take my ten year old into the ladies’ toilets with me. No one has said anything to me yet. He has long hair and is so often mistaken for a girl because of it that I don’t suppose they even notice I have brought a boy in with me. But what do you do when that boy is a fully grown manchild?
What do you do if you are a father who needs to take their daughter to the toilet? Even harder I imagine as you really don’t want to walk your daughter past men standing up urinating. So what do you do if there is no disabled toilet?
We need a campaign for genderless toilets. Recently, we took the boys to the Lyric theatre in Hammersmith. Their toilets are now labelled as ‘genderless without urinals’ (what was previously the ladies) and ‘genderless with urinals’ (previously known as the gents). They have done this to provide genderless toilets and in doing so have instantly made toilets accessible to parents or carers needing to accompany older children or adults of the opposite gender to the toilet.
One of my grown up sons was rather surprised to find himself in the ‘ladies’ and soon departed. Most people were still using them within the old order but no one passed any judgement or looked strangely at him for being there.
What a simple and easy move it would be if all toilets were to be labelled like this. It only requires a change of signs on the doors. Quick and cheap.
Another area we walk in regularly, Burnham Beeches, has an outdoor block of toilets which are essentially a row of single toilets with their own doors and all are labelled for either gender. They work for us because we can stand directly outside while a child is within. But if you need to accompany someone actually inside the toilet cubicle, they aren’t really big enough for two, so, for some people, a larger accessible toilet is needed.
Changing places has been a campaign to provide disabled toilets with proper facilities to enable a carer to change an adult. They have height adjustable changing benches, privacy curtains and other facilities. No one should ever have to change a child or adult on a floor but this used to be the situation for many.
Finally, while on the subject of toilets. Hand dryers. The noise of many hot air hand dryers is enough to make most people jump, let alone those with autism. It’s not even a noise within our own control as they randomly go off all around us. I recently saw a post where someone was asking for recommendations of toilets in London which did not have hideously noisy dryers. Safe toilets for those with noise sensitive autism to use. I don’t know what the alternative to hot air dryers is? Back to those enormous laundered towel rolls perhaps?