HUBER HEIGHTS, Ohio (WDTN) – A Miami Valley mother is crusading for changes at the statehouse in order to better care for her differently abled adult son in public restrooms.
Jennifer Corcoran says that every time she leaves the house with her 19-year-old son Matthew, she needs to think about when he may need to go to the bathroom, and when and how she can change him. Few buildings in the state of Ohio have adequate facilities for families like Jennifer’s, but she’s hoping to change that starting this week.
Jennifer says, “He was not supposed to survive birth, he wasn’t supposed to go past one, and he’s 19.” Matthew is a special young man. Born with several anomalies, Matthew’s brain did not develop properly due to severe hydrocephalus, or fluid on the brain.
She says, “He needs total care. So he’s in a wheelchair, he needs to be fed, any place that he goes he needs someone to direct him.”
He also needs to be changed when he goes to the bathroom. Matthew is very social, so Jennifer gives him and his two older brothers as many experiences as possible. But she must plan for changing him every time they go out, even cutting their trips short if necessary.
“When we go into public places, there’s no place to change him, and that’s our biggest hurdle.” Jennifer recently stepped down from her position as a special education teacher to take a different job that allows her more time to care for Matthew. She makes it work, but it’s getting more difficult as he gets older. “For his whole life I’ve changed him in the back of my van. But at this point though he’s big enough that I don’t even have that as an option.”
Now a new bill will be heard in committee this week that would require newly built large buildings or major reconstruction projects to be equipped with adult changing stations. The bill would focus on large buildings and public places where extended stay might be an issue for families like Matthew’s. Tax credits would be available, and small buildings could apply for waivers.
“When we are limiting our citizens from going into the community it becomes an issue. And it’s not an issue just for Matthew.”
State Senator Peggy Lehner of Kettering will testify on the bill Wednesday. After her testimony, the chair of the Senate’s Transportation, Commerce and Workforce Committee can choose to hear more testimony at a later date. Jennifer is already preparing her remarks in the event she gets to testify.