Allow special needs kids to use disability toilets

I read with concern letters over the rights and wrongs of members of the public using disability toilets ("Tackle misuse of disability toilets at its root" by Mr Wong Boon Hong; last Saturday, and "Disability toilets more about lowering barriers" by Dr Marissa Lee Medjeral-Mills; last Thursday).

I am a parent of a special needs girl. She is autistic and has sensory issues. She is very afraid of the sound the hand dryer makes in the common toilets and refuses to go to those toilets because of that.

Thus, I always have to take her to the disability toilets, where she has control over the hand dryer.

As my daughter looks like a normal child, no one knows that she has special needs.

Thus, I always find it very stressful to take her to disability toilets. People look upon us as a selfish lot who misuse these toilets meant for people with mobility issues.

Once, a wheelchair user banged on the door when my daughter was using the disability toilet. As she needed to move her bowels, we took quite a while in the toilet. The wheelchair user scolded us when we came out.

I wanted to tell the wheelchair user that my daughter was a special needs child who needed such special toilets too. But I didn't argue. I apologised and went off quickly.

Unlike wheelchairs users, who can be identified easily by others as people who have the right to use disability toilets, people like my daughter can't be easily identified.

I hope the use of disability toilets can be extended to all people with disabilities and not just to those with physical disabilities.

Perhaps people with disabilities, physical or otherwise, could be issued a card meant for their use of disability toilets.

Hong Wai Yee (Mrs)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2015, with the headline 'Allow special needs kids to use disability toilets'. Print Edition | Subscribe