Friday, February 17, 2012

How To Navigate a Public Bathroom with your ASD Kid

I don't know about your kid, but The Boy isn't exactly the kind of kid that stays put.  It's not like I can park him on a bench and ask him to "stay here" then expect him to stay.  The Boy is pretty good at holding "it."  But when he utters the words - I have to do pee pee.  I know he means business.  So on days when we're out and about and it's just me and him - using public bathrooms are tricky.  But I think, I've narrowed it down to a science. 

It's the kind of operation that requires speed, balance and agility. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, involves the ability to get in and out of a public bathroom without a meltdown, some kind of fungus or soiled pants. (Feel free to hum the Mission Impossible Theme Song to get you in the mood)

1. First of all - and I cannot stress this enough - it's all about LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION! 
Be aware of your surroundings.  Is there a coffee house near by?  I'll take a coffee place over a greasy fast food joint any day of the week.  Book store bathrooms are also rather nice.  Department stores, libraries, hospitals  - hit or miss.  

2. Immediately check to see if they have paper towels or the automated hand dryers.  The Boy FREAKS out at the sight of the automated hand dryers.  So if I spot one - I know to divert the attention and pray to the bathroom gods no one comes in and sets it off. 

3. Don't feel guilty about using the big stall.  The extra room is very much needed.

4.  DO NOT utter the phrase "Don't touch anything." 

5.   Let your kid go first.  While they're going, start gathering paper for yourself.  Remember - every second counts.  (I usually tuck the paper in my bra strap or under my chin.) 

6. Start unzipping/pulling down.  You have to be ready to go as soon as your kid is done. 

7. When your kid is finished, switch places.  At this point, you'll have to hold the kids hand while you go.  You can either prompt them to pull up their pants or use your free hand to pull them up. 

8.   Once you're finished, adjust your clothes with one hand - remember, the other one is still holding on to your kid.

9. Provide a warning before you flush. 

10. Wash hands with soap and water.  If there are no paper towels and you are unclear whether or not the automated dryers will freak out your kid - it's perfectly okay to wipe your just washed wet hands on your favorite jeans. (Well, I guess it's not really okay but it's a small price to pay.)      

Does any of this sound familiar?  How do you navigate public bathrooms with your kid? 

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AutismWonderland - written by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez - is a personal blog chronicling a NYC family's journey with autism, while also sharing local resources for children/families with special needs.