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Hand Dryer Hysteria


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#1 Philosophy Mummy

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 08:09 PM

Hi All,

I wonder if anyone could shed some light on, or offer any advice as to how we might help our little boy overcome his super sensitivity to/fear/phobia of: hand dryers.

He will be 4 in a few weeks time and this has been going on for about 18 months now and it's got progressively worse, not better.

That horrendous noise they make distresses him to the point of meltdown. We used to be able to go into the separate parent and baby rooms where we could be entirely alone and there would be no fear of any unsuspecting stranger attempting to dry their hands and turning his world upside down. Now, just knowing that there is one lurking behind a door somewhere on the same corridor is enough to panic him and make him physically shake with anxiety. We can no longer even walk past a door/corridor which has a 'toilets' sign or symbol on it without a lot of reassurance/gentle persuasion and, in the end, running! Actually approaching such a door is absolutely out of the question.

As you can imagine, this creates all manner of difficulties whenever we go anywhere and if my husband or another second adult isn't with us then we can't stray too far from home in case I need the loo!

I have no choice but to put BB in pull-ups whenever we leave the house but this has a further negative effect on the potty training that we are doing at home.

Has anyone experienced anything similar with their children? I'm genuinely at a loss as to how I can possibly help him overcome this. Any small snippet of advice would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks in advance, PhilMum X

#2 Tangled

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 08:22 PM

Hi,

My DS was very similar and is still very wary of public toilets at 10 because of the hand dryer! We hadn't quite got to the panic you're describing though about even seeing a toilet. He deliberately doesn't drink if we go out to avoid needing to use the toilets! We have never done it but you could try ear defenders? Others on here have recommended them. Alternatively how about using the disabled toilet?

We have the problem now that he won't go into a toilet on his own or wait outside but as he is a tall 10 can no longer come in the ladies with me so I know how difficult it is to go out without another adult! I was quite stumped at first about what I could do but now have the disabled toilet as a back up plan!

I'm sure others will be along with more ideas :-)

Tangled xx

#3 annie-rose

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 08:25 PM


Oh yes we hate them too!
Hi, don't know what to suggest for your LO. I use the disabled facilities now, I tell little moo that they are for ones like her who need a private toilet. we go to peep at the loo first to 'see if its nice' then I might suggest trying it out. It helps if there is something nice to recommend it such as a flowery picture or pink soap! It is a problem for me when we are out on my own and I need to go. She doesn't like to come with me and so I often have to hold!

#4 maximus prime

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 08:37 PM

Yes we have hand dryer hell too.Locally we opt for disabled toilets where we know no one will set off the dryer out and about we cover Lucy's ears if we have to or position one of us in front of dryer and ask people to wait until she leaves.

Have you tried ear defenders?

#5 Philosophy Mummy

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 09:44 PM

Thanks for such a speedy reply, Tangled.

We've reached the point now where he won't even entertain the idea of a disabled/parent and baby room. There are even places that we visit quite often (a country park/the local garden centre for example) where we have to make significant detours to our route to avoid the whole toilet block altogether.

If it's not too intrusive a question, may I ask you how your DS copes with this problem at school? BB is due to start reception class in September '13 and I'm really worried about how he is going to cope with his toileting issues. (There are so many worries about him starting school that keep me awake at night!)

I hadn't even considered ear defenders. Like those big padded earphones that people used to wear before walkmans were invented! That might be an avenue worth pursuing. If I could get him to agree to try some on then we could start by blocking out the washing machine (which doesn't bother him in the least) and when he understands what they do, maybe try moving on to my hair dryer (which he needs to be at least two closed doors away from.)

It's at least a place to start. Why didn't I think of that? Thank you. X

Thanks Annie-Rose and Maximus Prime.

I'm getting ear defenders loud and clear so I will start tinternetting to find a pair.

On one hand I feel as if I should push him to at least go into the disabled toilets but the last time I tried that (because I was desperate to go to the loo) I caused the mother of all meltdowns (in public, of course) which left us both absolutely exhausted and unhappy. I felt awful - like the world's worst mum - and he was absolutely distraught. On the other hand (because of that incident) I worry that any push might have entirely the opposite effect.

Clinically speaking, he's seen the paediatrician once so far, so we have no dx or advice re dealing with any sensory issues (there are food issues too.)

I was hoping he would just grow out of it but that's clearly not going to be the case!

XX

Ear protectors ordered!

Edited by Philosophy Mummy, 09 November 2012 - 09:07 PM.


#6 Tatty

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 10:14 PM

Always handy if all else fails!

http://www.radar-sho...etail.aspx?id=0

#7 gingerpig

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 10:23 PM

Just wanted to say - you're not alone! Bee Girl has now got to the point where she wont go in any public toilet, even the disabled ones are a fight. Its the awful dyson handblades - now they are everywhere she's terrified. Makes me really cross as it's effectively disabling her further. She wont wear her ear defenders anymore either...

#8 Neeeko

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 10:36 PM

DD had dryer-hatred at a younger age, it lessened as she got older, now (9) she copes but exits the loos sharpish if the dryers are used. She has ear defenders that she wears when we hoover at home (never thought to take them out with us!) but she needs them less now than she used to - I think the sensitivity maybe gets easier to deal with.

Sounds as if your wee one is scared of the noise, but even more he's scared of being scared, if that makes sense. My dd got like this with dentists - the fear kind of overtook the thing that scared her, and she got in a panic just at the thought of being asked to tolerate any kind of dentisty situation.

This is ongoing, but is getting better - what we've done is engineer lots of exposure to discussing dentists and very low-key dentist appointments (ie, working up from talking about the dentist, to driving past the surgery, to going into the waiting room, to putting a toe in the dentist's room, then leaving, etc) with lots of praise and planned rewards at every stage for coping. Coping counts as doing what we'd planned (eg, today we'll park in the dentist's car park and sit for 2 minutes without you shouting, ok?) and we planned in really small steps!

It only worked if the reward was something she knew about in advance and really wanted, whether it was a book or a trip to the pool, or whatever. We've had to put a lot of energy into addressing this fear as it turns out she needs dental surgery for a stuck baby tooth, aaarrggh, poor dd!

Would you be able to talk with your son about trying to help him not be scared of toilets/dryers, explain it'll take practice and there'll be prizes - is he, like my dd, to some extent bribable?! :)

#9 Kadenza

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 10:37 PM

Same here. We have had screaming, crying, kicking, rolling on the floor (yukkkk) etc at the sound of the Airblade.

It has eased over time, though, and I was astonished last week when Boo chose to use one of the less violent dryers, and didn't mind when a lady stood next to her at the vicious Dyson Airblade dryer. Boo had a toy dog with her, and spent the time taking to the dog, "It's OK, it's just the dryer. I know it's a horrible noise and it hurts, but it's just the dryer, and we'll be finished soon."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I never, ever thought this would happen.

Ear defenders should help. I found that saying loudly that I understood that she was in pain because of the dryers reassured Boo, and was an easy way of explaining what the problem was to the other toilet users. Some of them then chose to use paper towels to dry with, and got a warm thank you from me.

#10 Doryfish

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 10:38 PM

J had HUGE issues with hand dryers and would scream and kick and refuse to go anywhere near public toilets. At 5 he is now a lot better than he was but he still runs out of the toilet if the dryer is used and it's very noisy. Weirdly, out of him and LD, he appears to be able to cope with noise much better but LD never had dryer issues. Her noise problems are more about background noise... not sure which is worse!

#11 Tangled

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 11:35 AM

If it's not too intrusive a question, may I ask you how your DS copes with this problem at school? BB is due to start reception class in September '13 and I'm really worried about how he is going to cope with his toileting issues. (There are so many worries about him starting school that keep me awake at night!)


Hi, we were lucky in that our school's reception class had its own toilets which didn't have dryers. I think he just avoided going at school after that for ages (not good , I know - the whole avoiding drinking thing again too) but now he has a TA she has convinced him it is ok for him to use the disabled toilet. xx

#12 Philosophy Mummy

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 08:20 PM

A sincere thank you all for replying.

It never occurred to me that people who need to use disabled toilets might have their own key! I think I just assumed that one would have to hunt down the relevant key-holder (probably off on a lunch break somewhere) and that one would probably have already peed oneself by the time the door was finally unlocked! Thanks for the link, Tatty.

Gingerpig, Mr Dyson has a lot to answer for. Poor Bee Girl. I definitely sympathise with her. Bring back paper towels, please!

Neeko, I like your advice very much. We're used to doing lots of things slowly, slowly, gently, gently. He is bribable in certain situations but I think I would have to be very creative with the sort of bribe that might work in this particular case. Hmmm...
Has DD got a date for her surgery yet? I hope the build up to it doesn't become too much for her. It sounds as if you're doing a great job of making it as easy for her to deal with as you possibly can. BB is a pretty good listener actually. It sometimes takes him a while to process certain types of information - he might literally have to sleep on something for a few nights - but he's much less able to articulate his own thoughts and feelings and does struggle to communicate a lot of important information. He clams up too. I'm not sure he actually could describe how it really affects him, at least not just yet. I could try a little gentle probing and just back off again if I think it's too stressful for him.

Kadenza, BB takes his toy puppy-doggy everywhere with him. He also recites to himself over and over "It's just a loud noise but it can't hurt me." But he's repeating what I've said to him and he doesn't believe a word of it. :( What a brave girl your Boo is!

Littledelphina, that gives me hope that we can figure out a way to cope with this eventually. I find it tough being a Mum to just one child. I seriously don't know how those of you with bigger families do it!

Tangled, it's good that your DS trusted his TA enough to be persuaded to use the disabled toilet at school. That's a big step forward.

If we start to work this out I'll be sure to share our own little steps forward. X

Edited by Philosophy Mummy, 10 November 2012 - 08:22 PM.

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#13 jennybongo

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:12 PM

My youngest used to have a terrible phobia of hand driers. He used to physically shake with fear. I worked out that as well as the noise it was the unpredictability of them. You just had to walk past and the sensor would trigger it off. It must have been terrifying for him. I write this in past tense because he now over this phobia even though he is not keen, he can cope with them.
Boys can wee pretty much anywhere, I found it good to take the alcohol gel hand wash around with us. I know this is not much help but things do change in time, in the meantime others have given you some helpful strategies. Good Luck xx

#14 goinginsane

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:49 PM

My Nt ? child had a fear of hand dryer age 2, he is now 9 and still won't use them but my asd child has always been fine with them.

#15 nomatterwhat

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 03:26 PM

On eBay you can get ear defenders called,kidz ear defenders....there very good! IMO,if hs dryers cause such problems,as they did here,then noise is probably a issue more than you realise,when my boys wear their ear defenders and forget about them,they cope better with everything!velcro even wears them to watch telly:)they really help!



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