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The Sign Said, ‘Accessible’ - It Was Anything But!

Miriam Gwynne by Miriam Gwynne Additional Needs

Miriam Gwynne

Miriam Gwynne

Full time mum and carer for two truly wonderful autistic twins. I love reading, writing, walking, swimming and encouraging others. Don’t struggle a...

I knew as long as he got to see the lift doors open and close a few times there was a slight chance I would manage a quick grab of a card and a very brief look at wrapping paper.

I was barely in the door when a familiar odour made me double back to the car for the changing bad.

I have yet to graduate from the baby changing bag to a handbag despite the fact my youngest is eight years old!

My son was most unimpressed at this sudden change of plans but with a lot of, 'first car, then lift', talk he sort of when along with me.

I held him tight while I reached into the boot for the nappy bag.

As we returned to the shop I looked him in the eye and whispered 'first change, then lift.'

I was treated to his wonderful ear piercing scream, the sort that rattles off your ear drum for minutes later and draws stares for miles around. For a child with zero words he can sure scream load!

Despite his obvious protest his needs needed attended too so I marched him quickly in the direction of the toilets.

It was a large supermarket.

We had just passed the electronic scooter trolleys, the wheelchair accessible trolleys and the various parent and child ones.

This was the very supermarket who had recently held a 'quiet hour' to help families like mine.

As I stood in the hallway of various bathrooms I looked around at my options.the usual ladies and gents, followed by a baby change room and a disabled bathroom with this sign.


Except it wasn't!

The sign read 'accessible' yet as I took my disabled son in to change his nappy there was nowhere to lie him down safety.

The safety railings by the toilet were of no use to me, neither was the pull cord or the higher seat.

The lower wash basin was not what we needed either. I needed a bench where my son could lie down comfortably to have his needs met.

There was nothing.

I knelt down on a toilet floor because I refused to lie my son down. I had to see to his dignity in the most undignified way possible.
He doesn't understand that this is not right, but I do. I have done it too many times now.
But this time somehow upset me more, not because he was dirty or because he was upset, but because this bathroom had a sign on that should have meant I had access to the facilities I needed.
The sign read 'accessible toilet, not every disability is visible'
Perhaps it should have read 'accessible toilet, unless you need a bench!'

I met my child's needs and after a quick watch of the lift doors I left without buying that birthday card or paper.

I would rather spend my money in a retail outlet that values my son's dignity and doesn't pretend things are accessible when they clearly aren't.


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