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Public Toilets

sallyaa Member Posts: 5
Has anyone any suggestions for coping with a learning disabled 10 year old boy, who is wanting to establish his independence by using the men's toilet? He doesn't want to come to the ladies with me (and if he does now we get mucky looks from people who think he's too old to be there) and as he doesn't have physical disabilities I feel bad using the disabled toilet. But for several reasons I'm uncomfortable sending him alone to the mens. If we're somewhere quiet I do, and if my partners there its not an issue as he can take him. However my son needs reminders to wipe, flush and wash hands and will talk to absolutely anyone. He gets really angry and says I'm making him into a baby if I insist he comes with me. In busy places I do insist, and put up with the tantrum, explaining its to keep him safe. In quieter places I let him go, often hovering outside the mens loos in a panic until he comes back. Am I over paranoid or am I doing the right thing? Maybe he does need more independence, but I'm not sure public loos is the safest place to get it?


  • Heather
    Heather Member Posts: 168 Connected
    edited June 2014
    Oh I am so with you on this one! My son is nearly 12 and can't manage cleaning himself. He happily comes into ladies toilets with me, but as you say. The looks could kill! The queues can be rather a problem as well. But accept a disabled toilet, as when my son soils himself, there's no way can I clean him in a normal cubicle. It's society that seem to be very judgemental on this one.
  • Alistair
    Alistair Member Posts: 102 Listener
    I know where you are both coming from here but had never considered the gender issue. As a single Dad I needed to take my daughter into the gents! It was hard for us both. I stood back about 2 years ago when she was 11. I adopted the 'hover' approach. But I see why sending your son into a gents toilet alone must appear to be more of a risk. It's really got me thinking. I think you have to go for the 'hover', it's the only way to promote independence.
  • sallyaa
    sallyaa Member Posts: 5
    Thanks Heather and Alistair, it's good to know I'm not alone on this one.
    FATHERSCONTACT Member Posts: 8 Listener
    Sallyaa. Hi.
    Although now retired my company devised the National RADAR Key Scheme in association with RADAR themselves. Most Councils will sell you for about £3.50 a RADAR Key tht will give you unembarressed access to disabled toilets around the UK. It won't overcome the independence problem but worth a try. JohnE
  • sophiebx
    sophiebx Member Posts: 1
    hey i am 19 years of old and i find it very hard to use public toliets my mum has tryed everythink is there any tips that can anyone can help me thanks!
  • BusyOT
    BusyOT Member Posts: 76
    Public toilets are tricky to negotiate. I've spent plenty of time "hovering" outside - worrying that something dreadful is happening inside (in reality the person is usually just getting on with their business). But when teaching independence OT's will usually try to break the task down and if you use the same strategies for public toilets it can get easier. Some strategies might include:
    - hand washing can be completed, with your support, outside the loo (using hand gel), therefore less steps to remember whilst in the public toilet
    - as much as possible use the same public toilets. Familiarity with the environment will likely help the person. (Even organise a visit when it is closed to the public)
    - if you are worried about the persons safety, use the busiest public toilet you can find (it feels counter intuitive but people are safest in busy places, more people can intervene if needed)
    - practice the routine at home, use prompt cards, or a sequence on a phone (apparently blokes often check their phones in the loo!)
    - perhaps start with public loos for "short trips" and the disabled loo for when you know he will need more assistance
    - ensure clothes fastenings are really easy to use, often when people are anxious they find it difficult to do up buttons, zips etc
    Hope some of this helps, it would be great to hear what other folk do to help teach people independence in public toilets. Arlene


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