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Published September 02, 2013, 11:00 PM

Parenting Perspectives: Time to address issue many care givers face.

In my last column, I wrote about the dilemma of taking my 6-year-old son with me into public restrooms that are not very family friendly.

By: Kerri Kava, INFORUM

In my last column, I wrote about the dilemma of taking my 6-year-old son with me into public restrooms that are not very family friendly.

I also shared how he has become more curious, and I can’t simply change in front of him. At the same time, I can’t exactly leave him outside of my stall either.

I left you with a plea for advice specific to dealing with a child with special needs. Your responses were overwhelmingly absent, which leads me to believe one of two things: Either you are confused about what to do, too, or you’re a busy parent with no time to email me your solutions.

I did, however, receive one reply that deserves to be shared. Thank you, Audrey Ochocki, for taking time to write a response. I knew it would be a teacher who would speak up.

“Dear Kerri:

“The issue you describe as a parent of a child with special needs is an ongoing public issue that needs to be considered for the dignity of all individuals.

“Your concerns are relevant; the issue expands to a much wider population:

“Young children shouldn’t be left unattended inside or outside public restrooms and changing areas.

“Not only do we have a responsibility to protect our children from strangers but also to keep our children from infringing on the rights of others.

“Most children have a natural curiosity; however, a child with special needs may react substantially different to behavior modification thereby making normal issues even more challenging.

“Many health issues impact daily routines for persons of all ages and require access to a private and sanitary area for sup-plies and/or assistance from a caregiver. (Examples include diapering, breastfeeding, catheterizing, injections, transfer-ring on/off a toilet seat and dressing.)

“These issues affect people of all ages. A friend just shared how she was unsuccessful in finding an appropriate restroom for an elderly parent and how difficult it was to assist her parent to use the stool that was extremely low.

“Although I’d like to believe most people under-stand the importance of getting out and socializing, it seems that too few people understand or are willing to address the public hurdles that complicate carrying out activities of daily living within public facilities.

“My advice is:

“Practice patience, persistence, and become an advocate for change.

“Keep your eye open for the unisex/handicap family restrooms/changing/locker rooms and/or ask establishments if they have such.

“Advocate for the needs of your family. If a family room is not available, ask for a facility manager, explain your needs, and ask who will help you find an alternative area that will work to meet your needs. I’ve experienced facilities that were more than happy to temporarily post a sign to reassign a restroom as a unisex family room.

“Do what works best for your family. If necessary, avoid facilities that won’t meet your needs – eventually businesses will recognize that it’s good business to provide family friendly areas for activities of daily living.

“Continue to reach out and ask for assistance. Ask around and search on-line for appropriate sup-port services.

“Best wishes, Audrey Ochocki, retired teacher of students with physical and other health impairments.”

Kerri Kava can be reached at kerrikava18@gmail.com

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