LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)– If you’re a parent or care-giver, it’s likely you’ve had to change a baby or toddler’s diaper in a public bathroom. But when it comes to older children and adults with disabilities, there aren’t many facilities to help take care of their needs.
There’s a push to help Michigan families get those resources.
The average changing table in a public bathroom is about 36-40 inches.
It works for babies and toddlers but doesn’t do much for older children or adults who need special bathroom facilities to change.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say. But with this bill,” says Michigan mother Jessica Gomez, “we can ensure a future of inclusion for all members of our communities across Michigan.”
Gomez says taking her son Liam in public comes with extra challenges. Liam is five years old and lives with a rare brain disease and epilepsy. He is nonverbal and on the autism spectrum.
“It kind of feels like, almost like playing Russian Roulette at times,” Gomez says of public outings with Liam, “because you have no idea if your child’s going to need to be changed the moment you get there. Can you spend an hour there? You know, can you make it home in time?”
If passed, the bill would require special changing tables to be put in the following places:
• Establishments with the capacity to serve 1,500 or more persons per day, including but not limited to, any state building, facility, or structure
• Places of exhibition or entertainment, including movie theaters, theaters, concert halls, convention centers, shopping malls, or stores of at least 40,000 square feet
• Places of public display or collection, including museums, libraries, and galleries
• Places of recreation, including parks, zoos, and amusement parks
• Bus stations
• Interstate rest stops
• Places of education
• Places of worship
• Rehabilitation centers
Gomez he hopes “Liam’s Bill” will help her and other families by providing special changing tables in public bathrooms beyond what already exists.
“Currently we have Koala Care stations,” says State Representative Lori Stone. “Typically that’s an infant changing station which can accommodate 45, 50 pounds and a small individual.”
At more than 40 pounds, Gomez says Liam is almost too heavy and already too long for standard changing stations. She also says his sensory disorder makes changing him at a standard table more difficult.
“When he’s up on those changing stations and his legs are hanging over, and he feels that movement of his legs hanging off the table, he doesn’t understand what’s going on and that puts him into a panic. And then you have him want to alligator roll and then we have to worry about fall risk. And it’s just not safe.”
Supporters of the bill say there needs to be something more.
“Bathroom floors are disgusting, and I wouldn’t want to have to resort to that to take care of my personal needs,” Stone says. “So I don’t think we should ask anybody else.”