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Any tips on coping with public toilet fear and noisy hand dryers?(23 Posts)
Hi all! As per title really. I think related to sensory problems with noise and fear of someone trying to open door.
Our little one is terrified and it affects our daily life. We are really limited on family days out etc and she has a full day school trip coming up!
My Dd3 has Asd, SPD and other diagnoses, she will not use public toilets. We have a RADAR key to give her entry to disabled toilets but quite often she wont use them either.
We have reached a compromise where if we are out all day she will go once but whole day trips are overwhelming for her anyway so we generally do shorter ones.
It is very difficult.
Just keep gently trying in all sorts of places. Ours got horrendous and was really restricting (at one point we travelled with a kampakazzi) but it is improving and now is mostly ok.
I used to carry something for ds to pee in because he hated toilets. Then eventually ds agreed to go in the cubicle but he would pee in the 'thing' rather than the toilet. He would put his ear defenders on if bothered by noise. We took it slowly and eventually he was ok. Though he mostly uses the disabled toilets now because he is older and not keen to go into the mens toilet a lone.
zzzzz I have never heard of a kampakazzi. That would have been useful for me when ds was refusing to use the toilet.
I take my DC (both ASD, both hypersensitive to noise and crowded places) into the disabled toilet. Enough room for all 3 of us, and no unexpected hand dryers (I fecking well HATE those new ridiculously noisy ones ). Most don't seem to need a special key to open them IME. Also know of a mum who made her own laminated "Out Of Order" signs and stuck them on the hand driers when using public toilets.
If you are tall like me you can reach up and turn the handryer isolator switch off as you walk in to the toilets and turn it back on as you walk out! I used to do this in the disabled toilets to as they are often on motion sensors and will turn on if someone gets to close to them.
I don't have any great words of wisdom but if it helps to hear you're not alone.... Our ds aged 4 with asd will not go anywhere near any public toilets, at all. He is not toilet trained or anywhere near being toilet trained and I think this phobia / sensory issue has a lot to do with it. We have to take turns staying with him while the other one goes to the toilet if we go out for the day and at nursery they are unable to change his nappy as he meltdowns at the suggestion of going to the toilet (luckily he is only there for a few hours in the morning so they don't change him, not ideal but less stressful for everyone right now). It is very difficult.
TarkaLiotta* I love the ideas of the fake "out of order" signs
I might steal it! they're such horrible things, totally stops DD from being able to pee.
I use the disabled toilets with Ds now, I can't even get him into the ladies with me without a meltdown.
I have found though that even when I am out without Ds I never use the handryers anymore, I have obviously subconsciously become aware how many people hate them so avoid them
It was unbelievably difficult when we homeschooled because there WASNT another adult. I have gone for many many hours unable to use the loo myself. The lesser known side of ASD
I love all the suggestions of switching off at isolated and using homemade out of order signs
For me I have a RADaR key. We carry spares for DS as due to chronic constipation he sometimes leaks and keep it in there. I've always used it if DS is having 'one of those days' and couldn't cope. Other than that it was just a long time work in progress which I kept trying until he finally managed it.
Hat off to you zzzzz. I'd NEVeR manage to hold on - my bladder is a real letdown!
Radar key and careful planning here. Ds has a bladder of steel and can hold for hours but I am opposite, so up until fairly recently (and also depending where we are) I use the disabled toilet so I can wee with him in with me as he's not always safe to leave outside. Which isn't ideal but if I can't take my disabled son out because I can't have a wee I'm a bit stuffed.
I keep saying im going to get a radar key, now im definately going to look into it, my son wont even use the school toilet and he can be there up to 8 hours a day when im working, he will very rarely use an outside toilet, he used the toilet at the zoo not so long back because it was a urinal. so not sure whats going on there.
it really cant be healthy to hold it all this time,my son is nearly 9.
This is really common, I'm finding, and I understand how it impacts on your daily lives. I had a similar problem a month ago when DS and I had to wait for three hours for a very late running hospital appointment. I hadn't brought enough with me to entertain him for three hours, so we went to the cafe. Fine. Except that after a grande skinny latte I desperately needed the loo, and DS rrefused to come in with me. I had to leave him outside screaming whilst I hurried as much as possible.
Ive seen the isolator switch, and contemplated carrying around a pop up step to reach it! I am only 5 foot 1 inch tall, so no hope of me reaching it. I am absolutely loving the home made out if order sign.
How do you obtain a radar key? DS has Dla and diagnosed ASD and severe language delay, but no mobility needs.
it's easier to just buy one from amazon well
Once or twice she has been in public - in disabled or individual cubicle and if I switch the dryer switch off! Other times she will panic at the mere suggestion of using toilet or going near them :-( she also hates people trying the handle to see if cubicle is free, air fresheners, automatic flushes,
smoke alarms with flashing lights or any gadget with flashing light in toilet and of course, hand dryers!! So tricky. We did have her wetting herself numerous times a day at school when she started in the Autumn but she will now go to separate cubicle which the teachers use, when prompted as she doesn't speak (selective mutism) and dryer switched off!
Def looking into radar key, perhaps ear defenders. I'm hesitant to revert to going into a portable potty/toilet at this stage, although it does limit her experiences as we would love to take her for full days out. Also, we have a holiday abroad in August...
Mumsnetters had some great suggestions for tackling this when I posted a while back. One was to write a social story about the hand driers. Another was to get your child to voluntarily turn on /let you turn on and then score hand drier a number for noisiness. Appreciate this wouldn't work for everyone but the second one has really helped us tackle the fear a bit (ours is obsessed by numbers).
My dds are similar, they've always hated hand driers, but will tolerate public toilets, only if I take them. They are both being assessed for ASD. They also hate smoke alarrns/fire alarms etc.
I can't usually even get my dd to enter the toilet as she had such a panic. I did once on full day at a theme park, but it took about an hour around lunchtime and only managed it as dryers we v quiet and we checked them out together. If I could get her into toilet, scoring noise level may actually work as she also loves numbers...thanks for suggestion! I just need to get her to enter the toilet. Sometimes she refuses to go in and panics, even if there are no hand dryers.
Wonder if I should try social story.
Milly, are your little ones noise sensitive I take it...like our dd! What about flashing lights? My dd gets nervous or is v aware of flashing/flickering lights. It's element of surprise with her sometimes, possibly. We had to take down our smoke alarm/carb mon det, due to the tiny flashing light and replace it with a basic one - no light! When we visited Paediatrician, within moments of walking in, she announced that the tiny light on their alarm flashes green, yellow and red. The Paed has worked there for years and hadn't ever noticed!! She's ok with Xmas lights though?!
In our local multi-storey car park, she doesn't like when the lights flicker, she clings to me and feels nervous.
You could spend a few weeks visiting toilets very briefly, to build up the tolerance, being careful to only spend even a second or so if they are very bad. As the trouble I found is that I'd really have to go myself and that would take longer than a second! Poor kid in meltdown.
My kid that is! But if I went when I didn't have to use it, then I managed to build up enough tolerance to cope. My child still cries though.
Our ed psych lady suggested "making" a hand drier out of a box and a hairdryer at home and practicing using it. We didn't try it though, so no idea if it works.
I would always turn off the switch if I could, my big butt always set the damned thing off. Our girl is over it now, thanks to some good work done by her teacher and her SN assistant. It definitely makes life so hard when they can't deal with the noise. The disabled toilet at least gives some control over it.
I've tried convincing her hairdryer is like a hand dryer and holding it above her hands. She used to be nervous of hairdryer too but not too bad now.
Def good having some control in disabled toilet or the toilets with single cubicles. I annoy get my little one anywhere near a toilet at the moment to try our any strategies unfortunately, apart from once, when she was at soft play and urgently needed the toilet. She didn't want to go home as enjoying herself so much. We went into disabled and I turned dryer off. She still had a real panic though. She managed to go and obv we praised her massively lol!!
May try the box hand dryer suggestion 😆😆
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