When I was potty training Sierra, every time I saw the handicap sign for a bathroom I would think "autism is a handicap for Sierra but this bathroom is not too accessible for her."
I know she is not blind or in a wheelchair but she has to use the bathroom when we are out and had a very hard time doing so.
Here are the problems she dealt with when trying to use a public restroom.
First off the smell can stop her dead in her tracks. I know we all do not like the odors coming from a bathroom but for a child with autism it is magnified a 100 times. OK, so she can hold her nose right? Wrong! See next problem.
The hand dryers are too loud and she would cry and hold her ears if they started going (try holding your nose and ears at the same time). There were times when I would hold her ears while she held her nose (which can be quite comical). Sometimes she would have soap all over her hands when someone started a hand dryer and, you guessed it, soap ended up in her hair. Flushing the toilet was also a problem if they were very loud.
Rust marks or other marks inside of the toilet used to cause a problem too, She would not sit on one if it had marks in it. I don't know why because my bathroom at home is not the cleanest.
Sierra can not be the only child with autism that had these problems and that is why I say that bathrooms are not handicap accessible for children with autism.
I know we cannot demand nice smelling, clean bathrooms all the time but we could do away with super loud hand dryers maybe.
I did find a solution with the Potette Plus travel potty Which I wrote about in my post Best Portable or Travel Potty Ever. I carried that around (it is small enough to fit in an over sized purse), and I either used it in the bathroom instead of their toilet, or used it in the car, or a secluded spot. It got us through some pretty rough potty times.
I wrote this post because the past week was the first time that Sierra used the public restroom and even used one of those turbo hand dryers without incident (she is seven). No covering her ears! Yay!!! Who would of thought that would be a milestone in a child's life.