Theme ‘bathrooms and toilets’

‘Bathrooms and toilets’ is a theme under the chapter ‘architectural spaces’. (See the recommendations.) This subject encompasses recommendations which can be carried out in the construction phase of a (re)building project. Other measures around bathrooms and toilets can be taken in finished buildings and are subsumed in themes such as ‘smell’, ‘water’ and ‘ventilation’ in the chapter ‘installations and appliances’.

It’s self-evident that bathrooms and toilets are essential facilities. They are particularly relevant in relation to autism because their construction impacts aspects of autonomy, supervision, safety and quite a number sensory ones. (About flushing the toilet and sensory integration issues there is a nice Youtube by Becky Lyddon.)

At home and in kindergartens one is often confronted with children who are not toilet trained; almost half of all children with autism are not toilet trained by the age of four, according to a source mentioned in The Autism Toolbox. Thereafter problems of coordination can be the cause for students not being able to clean themselves effectively after being at the toilet. Kindergartens will usually be equipped for this. Where this occurs in primary education the necessary spatial arrangements will have to be made.

About 3% of all recommendations on this website concern the desirability or necessity of separating bathrooms/showers and toilets from one another. This recommendation is made repeatedly because its motive and/or application is different each time. Thus it may be about zoning, i.e. the architectural separation of functions and activity levels.

This recommendation can also be socially motivated, such as in safeguarding a smooth domestic morning ‘rush-hour’. This recommendation is also important because of the potential for disturbed senses caused by, for instance, the flushing sounds of toilets. In addition to noise, it is also important to consider odor. Adequate ventilation is an obvious solution until we consider that this is usually accompanied by noise; clearly a case where one has to choose for ‘the lesser evil’.

An important issue, especially in treatment- and long-stay homes, is the choice between private or common bathrooms. The latter enable supervision and assistance from caregivers. Since marginal supervision is generally always necessary, private bathrooms usually require such provisions. In both cases several safety measures have to be taken, and the layout of the spaces needs careful consideration.

The Autism Toolbox

Dunlop, Aline-Wendy, Charlene Tait, Alison Leask, Lisa Glashan, Anna Robinson and Helen Marwick, The Autism Toolbox. An Autism Resource for Scottish Schools, Edinburgh, The Scottish Government, St Andrew’s House, March 2009. PDF