If you watch a teen boy check himself out in the mirror before he heads out for the day, you may see him inspect carefully, fix details and then give a little nod to himself for a job well done. Alexander is no different. As a 16-year-old boy, he wants more than anything to take good care of himself. Like most teens, he loves music, dancing, and watching movies with his family. Alex lives with dystonic and spastic cerebral palsy. He uses a wheelchair to mobilize himself and a walker for exercise. Alex has intellectual and developmental disabilities, placing his cognitive and emotional maturity around age 10-12.
Alex has grown into his adult body and his emerging maturity has him striving for independence when it comes to bathroom use and personal hygiene. Not only is Alex’s bathroom not conducive to his caring for himself; but, it also is not at all accessible for caregivers to assist. The toilet grab bar is jerry-rigged between the toilet and tub and often comes loose, posing one of many safety issues in his bathroom. A small wall sink was put in to allow the wheelchair to fit, but when Alex leans on it to reach for faucets, it is a great concern that it will pull off the wall.
Alex does not consider personal hygiene a chore; he is eager to take care of himself and takes great pride in his appearance and independence. An accessible bathroom will alleviate the fear of injury and help the family achieve their goal of facilitating as much independence as possible. Everyone looks forward to when Alex can look in his own mirror and give a little nod of self-approval for a job well done.