Adult Men in the Women’s Bathroom

There is a meme going around Facebook land right now. It’s not new. It’s not widely shared either. And the comments are always colorful.

In fact, I think it might make people uncomfortable.

But nevertheless, I see it every few months or so.

It reads:

ACCEPTANCE IN RESTROOMS

Older children and adults on the spectrum may not be able to go to the restroom alone. If you see someone of the opposite gender with an accompanying adult, assume there is a good reason and don’t judge or comment. If you are uncomfortable, wait to do your business.

Whenever I see this meme I do a few things.

First, I worry. Because this is my future. My son will most likely NEVER be able to safely go into a public restroom alone. That is not negative. That is a fact.

This means that if my husband is not with us when we are out in public, and there is no family restroom, my son will be going into the women’s bathroom with me. No matter what age he is.

Why you ask? Forget that he needs help using the restroom. And doesn’t know that he should close the door, or how much toilet paper to use, or that he shouldn’t lie on the ground.

Instead, think solely about safety. Think about adult, male, strangers around a vulnerable person. Would you send a 3 year old into the bathroom alone?

Second, I am thankful. Thankful that this meme is going around. People need to know that this is a very real reality for parents like me. This is awareness my friends.

And third, I cringe. Because I know the comments will be brutal. There will be people that understand of course. And people that don’t. The internet is a cruel place.

These comments are from people that have never once thought about how an adult man in his 30’s or 40’s may not be able to go into a bathroom alone. That a man may need to have an incontinence product changed. Or be wiped. Or have their hands washed. All by their mother.

And mothers like me are scared. Because the world is a cruel place.

If you’ve never thought about it, please listen.

If you see a woman, mother, grandmother, caregiver, or care attendant in the women’s bathroom with an adult male please know that they have no choice.

And it doesn’t matter if the adult male looks ‘normal.’ Or not disabled. For some reason, they need help using the restroom.

If it at all makes your nervous, uncomfortable or angry…

Stop. Think. Be kind.

Don’t judge.

Smile. Or don’t smile.

Avoid eye contact.

Leave the restroom. Wait to go.

Do whatever works for you.

But please, cut the parent, caregiver, PCA, some slack.

They are scared of being yelled at. They are holding their breath. And most likely trying to hurry.

Please don’t embarrass them. Or shame them.

There is a reason this boy/man cannot go into the men’s bathroom alone.

And trust me, this woman looked for a family restroom. She looked for a single stall restroom.

But there were none. And this is the only option she has.

Because either she has to pee or the man with her does.

It’s as simple as that. It’s not sick. Or wrong.

Please offer acceptance. And kindness.

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  • Carey Bligard

    April 18, 2019 at 4:33 pm
    Reply

    I have a 29 year old non-verbal son with autism and we have done quite a bit of traveling by car from the Midwest to […] Read MoreI have a 29 year old non-verbal son with autism and we have done quite a bit of traveling by car from the Midwest to the West coast (where my extended family lives) and have thus taken him into many restrooms. I have never had a woman even give us a second look. Fortunately, women's restrooms provide privacy, unlike men's, but I have several small ways that I make it clear to the other women using the restroom that he is special needs: I make sure that we enter together and I hold his hand while we enter, I quietly and calmly give him instructions (which he doesn't need! :-D) during and after he uses the toilet, and, finally, I make sure that we exit together so women coming in don't think that an adult male has been in the restroom alone. I think most women have no problem with a supervised special needs adult in their restroom any more than they do small children who need assistance in there. Obviously, these techniques would have to be altered if your child won't hold your hand, etc, but they have worked for us, and my son appears to be a totally "normal" adult male when he is not agitated or stressed. Read Less

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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