Life presents challenges to us all.
Sometimes they are small, sometimes they are huge and sometimes they seem insurmountable.
Adam has a few more challenges than most.
He cannot sit without support and he cannot stand or walk at all. He wants to experience the joys of the entire world though. He wants to go to theme parks and play on the beach. He wants to wade through rivers and climb up high. He wants to watch films at the cinema and go to the theatre. He wants to swim and he wants to go on holiday. He wants to go on trains, buses and planes and he wants to do everything other people enjoy.
Most of these things sound simple enough. Surely everyone can go to the cinema or the theatre?
Well, yes, everyone can go but what kind of things do you do at the cinema or theatre? Maybe have a drink, eat a bit too much popcorn, hope you can hold on till the interval before needing to pee?
Ah, spotted a problem!
No cinema or theatre near us has properly accessible toilet facilities. If you can’t get up how do you use the toilet? At home a hoist and a bench make it possible for a person to help him. Out and about, most “disabled toilets” are completely disabling.
Have you been inside one when you had a toddler? Probably whilst feeling bad in case a disabled person needed to use it (but there really isn’t room in a regular toilet and you didn’t want to take your 3 year old daughter in the gents, yet you can’t exactly accompany her in the ladies room) and wondering how on earth a person using a wheelchair ever manages it because you are already squished uncomfortably just to enable your child to pee?
Yes, many of us have been there. Kids need to pee at inopportune times! Like NOW!!!
Children with disabilities are just the same. So how on earth do they manage in those tiny cubicles?
For years I found other ways, lifting him from his chair to a big mat on the floor (Yes, my stomach churns at the thought too) then when that became too horrible to bear we did a weird Tetris-style mobile bathroom facility in the back of the car. Yes, I hear you, that isn’t exactly better, still undignified but at least I know the floor is clean (ish).
And now he is too big and I am no longer able to lift him. So unless there is a large toilet with a bench and a hoist, we go home.
How would you explain to your child that they can’t stay till the end of the film? Or that they can’t stay at the theme park?
Better facilities are real. They do exist but they are all too few. One of our missions is to make our county more accessible and to make travelling across the country easier. Accessible toilets are a big part of that.