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sensory problem - afraid of hand-driers - how to help ds

(17 Posts)
zebramummy Sun 07-Jun-09 20:54:20

I have tried various approaches already with ds (nearly 4) such as showing him how they work, trying to normalise their presence in his world and pointing out similarities between hand driers and fans (he is ok with the latter) but to no avail. he will suddenly run into my arms several times during the day for a cuddle saying 'i am frightened of hand-driers' - it is as though he can hear them even though we may be at home or another place where none exists. if i ask him whether he can really hear them or if he is pretending he will admit to "pretending" but there is real fear in his eyes and no laughing afterwards to indicate that he was joking. i dont know if he is just seeking reassurance because he is feeling insecure or wether he has a sensory problem for which he needs therapy - i was wondering whether anybody could point me in the direction of self-help tips/techniques. he is not asd as such but did have some speech delay from 2-3 (though has since caught up).

TotalChaos Sun 07-Jun-09 20:57:41

how is he about hand-driers when you are out and about? DS who had/has language delay went through a phase of screaming at the noise hand-driers made and refusing to use them, he has mostly grown out of it. he didn't really mention the driers other than when we were in that situation though.

mrsgamp Sun 07-Jun-09 21:57:02

Evening, I hope I'm not hijacking this thread, but it is really interesting to me as I have a DD,3.5, who has language problems and sensory issues (mainly clothing issues which severely affect our lives and strange compulsions to smell certain things). Anyway, she is the opposite regarding hand-driers and absolutley loves them. She often drags me into the public toilets in town so she can see them and for a while actually described going shopping as "going to hand-driers". I know this is no help but her 'obsession' with them was fairly short-lived, just a few months.

sphil Sun 07-Jun-09 22:03:19

DS2 used to be terrified of them but a gradual process of desensitisation (at school) helped and now, like MrsGamp's DD, he loves them. His 1:1 started by just standing in the doorway with him while the other children used the driers, then they went in, then he stood beside them and finally used them himself.

But he is like this with most of his sensory sensitivities - gradual exposure works with him, whereas I know it doesn't with all children.

mrsgamp Sun 07-Jun-09 22:08:06

Oh, sorry to hijack again, but is there anywhere on here where there is info/experiences about sensory difficulties? It certainly sounds like we're not alone, but I've never come across anyone with issues like my DD's.

Littlefish Sun 07-Jun-09 22:15:38

My dd is 4.5 and also hates hand-dryers. Until very recently she was also scared of hairdryers and hoovers. I think it is a fairly common phase for children to go through. I just keep reassuring my dd that I won't put the hand dryer on, but that I can't stop other people doing it.

Just recently, she asked to see what the hairdryer felt like and she's now absolutely fine with it. I'm sure that in time, she'll be ok with hand dryers.

LeonieSoSleepy Sun 07-Jun-09 22:23:49

Message withdrawn

sphil Sun 07-Jun-09 22:46:58

MrsGamp - there have been lots of threads about sensory problems on here. If you do a search they should come up. A book that many people recommend is The Out of Synch Child by Carol Kranowitz.

movingintothefuture Mon 08-Jun-09 02:39:37

We have a weird one with dryers - ds is alright with the ones that he starts but the ones that suddenly go off really scare him and has reduced him to tears and an hour of clingy. It is a sensory thing and sometimes he can't bear to use them - his noise sensitivity is more accute when something else is not quite right. I don't know how to help him deal with this other then to reassure him than reassure him that it is ok, we are working on the definition of being brave as being scared of something and trying it anyway, and to not make a fuss. Trousers are encouraged when he can't cope with the dryer if there are no paper towels available. so watching with interest as nothing really seems to help us at mo.

MumOfThreeMonkeys Mon 08-Jun-09 08:16:26

my dd whos nearly 5 is terrified to the point that she wont use public toliets. she has major sensory issues thou.

lingle Mon 08-Jun-09 09:08:38

I think being scared of handdriers is entirely rational at this age.

He probably fears it will hurt him. It has many "dragon"-like qualities if you think about it. It spews hot air right at your head (if you are little).

To distinguish from sensory issues, can you observe his reactions to hairdryers and vaccum cleaners?

Handdriers are, anyway, loathesome things, as Nicholson Baker explains at great length in "The Mezzanine" smile.

r3dh3d Mon 08-Jun-09 09:25:26

I found with DD2 (NT) that the Big Fear was overcome once I lifted her up a few times so she was drying her hands at the same level of the rest of us. A lot of it was having all this hot air blasting in her face so that she was forced to look away from it, making it more scary iyswim. She has no sensory issues, of course, but it might take one more factor out of the equation?

zebramummy Mon 08-Jun-09 09:32:29

he is absolutely fine with other even louder noises such as the upright dyson which he even tries to use sometimes. he actually has a small fan on in his bedroom while he sleeps (used as white noise) so that is not a problem either. nor is the cooker hood or the hairdryer (although he does struggle with hair cuts and having a jumper pulled over his head -though they only affect him at the time and he does not otherwise mention them, unlike handdriers). he was born during a heatwave and there was also a mini heatwave the following summer - he had a big, noisy, black air conditioning unit in his bedroom which we used at bedtime - i distinctly recall that it was the first thing that he was actually frightened of (so much so that i had to stop using it) so i suppose that it could stem from there. i have heard of techniques such as bodybrushing and audio therapy and would be interested in other peoples experience of these although i do accept that he is still young and could well grow out of it. i just remember reading somewhere that having such an obsessive fear could have contributed to his slowness in picking up language - though i am grateful that he is now able to verbalise what is bothering him

zebramummy Mon 08-Jun-09 09:35:35

i would also add that his nursery has two handdriers installed although they are fairly quiet - they have mentioned that they do not think that he likes them but nothing more although he tends to wimper a bit rather than go into meltdown as a means of expressing his fear of them

lingle Mon 08-Jun-09 09:41:59

If similar frequencies and volumes don't bother him perhaps that makes a current audio sensory imbalance less likely?

Can you get him to tell you more about his fear of the handdrier through pretend play? (make a model of one and see if puppets want to use it. See if it chases them/hurts them etc).

zebramummy Mon 08-Jun-09 10:14:05

that is a great idea lingle - i know that ds loves his finger puppets and pretend play and we may have a breakthrough. i read about a clinic in north k-london specialising in helping people with sensory difficulties but their pricing structure was unclear and i was not convinced whether ds would be willing to listen to uncomfortable sounds through headphones which crudely sums up their approach. i have now remembered that car alarms are another thing which brings our normal interaction to a halt although i do not sense the same fear - just the desire to discuss it (yawwwwn!!!). i am also wondering whether the pre-reading exercises such as 'i've found a sound' are partially responsible as he is really into these - pointing out different bird song and vehicles noises and imitating animals???

zebramummy Thu 11-Jun-09 21:32:35

just wanted to update - we tried out a story with puppets - he actually enjoyed it and started telling similar stories on several occasions after this. we are getting less off the "handdrier/alarm" scenarios. ds really enjoyed running around dh and the petrol mower (is that what they are called?) even though they are vv noisy - progress??

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