Hand Dryers (aka ear torture devices)

Have you ever noticed how loud public washrooms are? I remember when the super strength blower hand dryers first started popping up in public washrooms. They were so cool! The air was so strong it would move your skin! Your hands actually dried, unlike the older, slower, colder models.

Great right?

Well, I used to think so. Now? Not so much.

I have come to realize that these dryers are like weapons of torture for many. Little C hates public washrooms because of all the loud noises. When he was a baby, he would cry anytime that I would take him into a public washroom to use the change station. I always thought it was because washrooms are often very echoey and cold. Now I know that it was an early sign of his over-sensitivity to some sounds. One of the struggles many people with ASD have is sensory sensitivity. Something I hear as an annoying sound can be painfully loud to him. I find those hand dryers really loud, so I can't imagine what it sounds like and feels like for him.

I've gotten pretty good at avoiding the crazy hand dryers - holding hands over his ears, quickly washing hands and drying with paper and leaving, etc. Unfortunately, that's not the only ear torture. The auto-flush toilets are also horrible for anyone with sensory sensitivity. First, they are also really loud. Even worse, they auto-flush... whether you are ready for it to flush or not. Paired with how loud it is and a child's noise sensitivity, it's terrifying!

I can certainly appreciate the fact that businesses are trying to avoid using paper towel and probably trying to keep their washrooms clean by making sure there isn't paper on the floor and the toilets actually get flushed, but come on! Couldn't we think of little ears - whether they are sensitive to sounds or not, it must be a big harsh for many.

It has made toilet training a bit tricky. At home? No problem! When visiting friends and family? Piece of cake! Public washrooms? Challenging. Usually, I can avoid public washrooms with shorter trips or knowing where single stall washrooms are, so I can control the noise levels.  There have been a few instances when they couldn't be avoided and I would have to hold my hands over his ears during our "visit." Usually it ends up with him upset and me teary eyed, feeling horrible that I had to make him endure auditory torture.

I would love to know: how do your kids find those super strength hand dryers and super sucker toilets? If they are bothered, what tricks do you have to avoid them, or make it less traumatic for your child (and you!)?
When the air is strong enough to move
your skin maybe it's too strong!

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