No, that’s not a typo, I really meant atypical:
not representative of a type, group, or class.
What exactly do I mean? Let me try to explain it.
For most families, the school holidays often go along the lines of planning a few days out, staying at home, sometimes going away on holiday for a weekend or a week or even a fortnight. If the weather is bad, or someone is unwell, or there has been a busy day previously, plans are juggled around or postponed to a more feasible day. Simple. Most things can be done this way, barring the actual holiday away, even if days out can’t be postponed in this time period there’s always another time – at the weekend, or later in the year.
Not so when your very ability to leave the house is dependent on facilities that are simply not present in most places.
We have friends who have this very issue. Adam is almost 11, he’s a full time wheelchair user and cannot stand, not even for a second to transfer. All he needs to be able to go out is an accessible toilet with a changing bench and a hoist. He can use the toilet, but needs a hoist to transfer to a bench, to sort clothes and change slings, and then hoist over to the toilet. Strangely the majority of “disabled” toilets can’t even accommodate his wheelchair, let alone his mum as well. They certainly don’t have a hoist and bench that he can use.
The toilets Adam, and many others, need are known as Changing Places or Space to Change toilets. There are companies that will assess and fit them into spaces, not as much space is needed as you might think. There are also mobile versions called Mobiloo that can be hired for events and so on.
In Cornwall, where we live, very few places have a suitable toilet for Adam. So, a couple of local charities have arranged for a Mobiloo to come down a few times over the summer holidays. But a few times, on specific days, does not allow for bad weather, illness, or a busy few days.
Last week we went to a local theme park on a day that was pouring with rain. We did not reschedule, because Adam couldn’t. This week Adam was excitedly awaiting a day out to the zoo. He’s unwell so can’t go. He’s upset because he knows that he can’t just go another day when he’s feeling better.
In addition to the unnecessary issues with days out, Adam and his family cannot simply go on holiday either. That too is fraught with issues, difficulties, extra expenses, and stress. There are not so many places with hoists fitted in the accommodation, and if there were, where would they go on days out anyway. In the past airlines have destroyed Adam’s wheelchair, his only means of getting around, what is he supposed to do then. Places like Disneyland are all to happy to invest huge sums of money into whole new sections of park, but are yet to install suitable toilet facilities.
It shouldn’t be like that. Toilets should be available PERMANENTLY at the majority of places. Them not being there is discrimination against those that require them. It would be deemed unacceptable for places not to have standard toilets – properly accessible toilets should be no different. And no, standard “disabled” toilets do not count.
What makes the situation even more shocking, is that the majority of places, when contacted, either brush it off, or ignore the request completely. A common excuse is: “our customers don’t need one”. That may be because the customers that do, can’t be YOUR customers.
Fun, inclusion and days out with friends should not be limited to specific days simply because your needs are slightly different from the majority. Particularly not in a county based on tourism, and particularly not when you are 10 years old.
Every holiday period, every day out, every trip to the supermarket, every day is atypical for Adam and his family. Really, every day should be as “normal” for him as it is for other children.
For more information on accessible toilets see the blog written by Adam’s mum: Ordinary Hopes