Pain of woman forced to change disabled son on dirty toilet floor

PUBLISHED: 18:41 21 February 2017 | UPDATED: 18:41 21 February 2017

Fay Hough is championing a petition to get more changing facilities in toilets for adults and children like her son Bowie who has autism

Fay Hough is championing a petition to get more changing facilities in toilets for adults and children like her son Bowie who has autism


A mother is raising awareness of the public toilet needs of disabled children

Imagine this: you’re in a public place, and you realise you need the loo. You’re incontinent, so you use the nappy you’re wearing, then make your way to the toilets to change it. But unlike a baby, you can’t lie on the changing table whilst your parent or carer makes you clean and dry. You’re too big for it. But what’s the alternative?

This is the challenge that faces Fay Hough when she takes her five-year-old son Bowie, who is autistic, out for the day.

At 3ft 9ins tall and 3st 8lb, he’s big for his age and is too heavy for a conventional baby changing table. So how does the above scene end for him?

“He’s lying on this dirty floor in a cold room and he’s just lying there crying his eyes out,” his mother explains.

It’s an experience that will be familiar to the quarter of a million of disabled people with incontinence issues - and now Fay is championing the issue and a petition started by another mother frustrated with the issue, which at the time of writing has 16,500 signatures.

It’s not just an issue of hygiene, but one of dignity and in Fay’s case, physical safety.

As well as being autistic, Bowie has sensory processing issues which make sensations – such as the discomfort of lying on a floor – feel more intense, and he reacts accordingly.

“I have been kicked, I have been punched, because he is doing whatever he can to get out of this situation,” says Fay, who works for Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas.

To make matters worse, she often has to contend with looks and even remarks from other mothers when she tries to change Bowie, due to the fact that his disabilities are not visible to the naked eye: “People say ‘this toilet is for disabled people only’,” she said.

Fay wrote a powerful blogpost for the Dagenham and Rainham Constituency Labour Party about the humiliating problem, but she believes that the solution is simple: “All they have to do is put adult changing tables in disabled loos. They are big anyway because they have to fit wheelchairs in, so there’s space.

“It’s just a bit of plastic on the wall and that will make a big difference, because my child won’t have to lay on the dirty floor.”

The petition urges the government to make the provision of these loos mandatory rather than “desirable”.

“Sign the petition so we can give our children a dignified way of being changed,” Fay said. “It’s not right. You don’t want them walking around a shopping centre or wherever with a dirty nappy.”

Latest Romford News Stories

The 17-year-old victim of an apparent acid attack in Collier Row yesterday evening (Wednesday, August 15) was released from hospital last night and did not suffer any major injuries.

15 minutes ago

Year 13 students at The Campion School in Hornchurch are celebrating a hugely successful year of A-level results that have left the school’s headteacher “over the moon”.

44 minutes ago

Coopers’ Company and Coborn School achieved its best A-level results in 15 years this week, and it’s no surprise its teachers are “extremely happy”

Frances Bardsley Academy in Romford has woken up this morning to record-breaking A-level results that have been dubbed “the best in the school’s history”.

Students at St Edward’s Academy in Romford are celebrating after achieving a strong set of A-level and BTEc results.

Police officers are appealing for the public’s help in finding an 18-year-old woman from Rainham who has gone missing from a hospital in Goodmayes.


Residents who are fighting to have a Rainham open space protected by village green status will be protesting Havering Council’s third planning application to build on the land.

Yesterday, 21:59

Police, paramedics and firefighters flocked to Collier Row’s high street this evening (Wednesday, August 15) after a man was injured in an apparent acid attack.


“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining,” so the saying goes. So if some warm weather is making your conservatory uninhabitable, think about replacing its roof with a flat one and adding a roof lantern instead.

The next step in renewable energy could be right beneath your feet as you walk through a Romford shopping centre.

There are many reasons people decide to join a gym. Some want to pack on muscle for strength, train for endurance, or lose weight. But did you know it also does wonders for your mental health? Two members at Romford’s Better Gym in the Market Place talk about their personal fitness journey and the importance of replacing bad habits with good ones.

Newsletter Sign Up

Romford Recorder twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read news

Show Job Lists

News from your area

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now