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Basic Human Rights

Happy Developmental Disability Awareness Month!

What a perfect time to talk about civil rights, human dignity and equal access within our communities.

Our son is autistic and has other medical diagnoses that will impact him through his lifespan. As a child with a developmental disability, he requires proper supports and accommodations to live a happy and fulfilling life.

We love going to the zoo, our local movie theater, the “dinosaur museum” and so much more! Unfortunately, our time is always cut short. Or even worse, there’s many places throughout our community that we’ve never been able to visit.

One of the hardest struggles we face while in public is the lack of accessible restrooms with adult sized changing tables. Baby changing tables are for babies and small toddlers up to thirty five pounds. Our son passed that weight limit years ago and he is continuing to grow into an adult.

Universally designed changing tables are inclusive and accessible for all people. Not only for my son, but for hundreds of thousands of individuals across our country that have chronic medical conditions, disabilities, injuries and other health concerns.

Without powered height adjustable adult sized changing tables, we are left changing our son on public bathroom floors on a beach towel, in the back of our car in public view or he is left soiled until we get home. It is inhumane and undignified.

Utilizing the restroom while in public is a basic human right and it’s being denied to thousands of individuals every single day. They deserve to have equal access to every public place and opportunity available to them.

We are extremely limited to where we can go in our community and the list continues to grow as he gets older. He deserves to be an active part of society and unfortunately is not able to without inclusive restrooms.

But this isn’t just about my son. This is for our vulnerable population who are so often forgotten. This is for our elderly loved ones, our disabled veterans, your mother with dementia, your father who suffered a stroke, your neighbor down the street that uses a wheelchair, your friend with MS, your nephew with cerebral palsy, or your son with autism.

It’s time we stop ignoring individual’s rights and start making human dignity a priority. We can’t keep laying our loved ones on dirty restroom floors. This one piece of equipment will be life changing for families and create a dignified and accessible space for all.

I couldn’t imagine going to the mall for the day

with a few friends and not having a restroom to use.

I couldn’t imagine traveling along the interstate with no rest stops or sitting at an airport with no restrooms available.

Could you?

You’re probably shaking your head no.

But this is the reality for so many individuals every single day.

And they deserve better.

So the next time you’re out and you find yourself needing to use the restroom, I hope you think about our story and it inspires you to speak up.

I hope you share what you’ve learned today and help educate other public spaces on the importance of inclusive and accessible restrooms.

We need to be the change we want to see in the world.

And there’s no better time than now.

Written by:

Christina Abernethy

Changing Spaces Pennsylvania

Email Christina at


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