Christina Abernethy is a special needs mother who is wanting to make a Change for the better not just for her son Ethan but for other children and adults with disabilities. Christina’s 7 year old son Ethan was diagnosed at 3 years old with Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder. Autism and Sensory Processing disorder make some things difficult for Ethan on a daily basis. Ethan has through many types of therapy such as physical, occupational and speech therapy since he was 15 months old. At the moment he loves music therapy which is helping him say more words !
Ethan was completely nonverbal until he was almost 6 years old. He does have some verbal speech now but it’s very limited. Ethan unable to communicate his wants and needs to his mother and family . He uses a speech device to help him get his point across .
When out in public ,The sensory issues make it very difficult for Ethan . Things such as Loud noises, bright lights, crowds, music, and smells can be very overwhelming to Ethan. Ethan wears noise cancelling headphones most of the time while he and his family are out in public. Also, Ethan is known to also wonder off or run off when he’s too overstimulated or see something that distracts him. This is very scary for his family. Especially since Ethan’s speech is so limited.
Ethan can’t communicate his name, address, who his parents are, etc if asked . For two years now , Ethan has had a service dog named Rex . She is trained in search and rescue to help his family keep him safe. Public bathroom accessibility has ALWAYS been an issue for Christina, Ethan and their family . As it has been for many other special needs individuals and their families.
Ethan is unable to communicate when he needs to use the bathrooms, so he is often having accidents and needing to be changed . The problem is ... the changing tables are not big enough to hold Ethan or any other special needs adult. Another downside is the changing tables are not inside of stalls most of the time so there are no privacy to change Ethan or any other special needs adult or child .
So what is Christina and other special needs parents having to do ? They are having to change their child on the floor . Which is VERY unsanitary. Another down side is the noisy hand dryers which makes Ethan and many others very afraid . Ethan is able to stand however it’s very hard to change him in that position .
Christina has taken it upon her self to make a CHANGE! She is trying to get it so that there are more accessible bathrooms for those with special needs. Christina is also trying to get larger changing tables for adults with special needs to use . A family restroom gives Mothers, fathers and care giver givers to change their loved one in a private setting. The adult changing is what NEEDS to be added for those who are larger than infant/toddler size.
Christina and Ethan’s story is autism and sensory processing disorder, BUT this goes way beyond that! Maybe you have someone who suffered a stroke, MS, Parkinson’s disease,Spina Bifida, Epilepsy, or other chronic health issues ... the list goes on! We all need to stand and make a change if we are going to make life more BETTER for those with special needs and their loved ones . We must keep sharing our stories , and keep pushing our needs and wants if we are to make a CHANGE for the BETTER!
How can you help ? Go to local businesses and to your governor and voice your needs and wants and don’t give in until there is a CHANGE ! Let’s make Ethan’s life and other individuals life with a disability a little better by getting better accessibility and bigger changing tables for them !