Getting children with autism or hyperacusis to use washrooms that are away from home can be a challenge. By creating something that is friendly and recognisable we hope that we can help reduce the stress that can be caused by something as simple and necessary as visiting a public toilet
We appreciate that no two children with a neurodevelopmental condition will have the same anxiety issues. All the senses can be affected and we know that noise issues are one of the biggest factors. We cannot (yet) make a silent hand dryer – possibly one day that technology will come but as yet it is not here. So lets look at some of the factors you may wish to consider when looking at washrooms specifically.
Noise stimulus – We have strived to get a hand dryer that dries hands as quickly as possible (under 14 seconds) whilst keeping the noise levels as low as possible – there will always be a compromise regarding noise and speed as it is the speed that air flows from a dryer that causes the noise levels to rise. Unlike all other dryers the noise level of a Puff does not get any higher when you put your hands under it. The dryer remains at a steady 72db which is about the equivalent of a classroom of chatting children.
Visual stimulus – In our research to date we are aware that many children associate white or metal boxes in washrooms as noisy objects. By making Puff a friendly character we create a ‘friendly face’ in the washroom and remove that association. The text beside the dryer also explains what is going to happen which we have discovered can help remove the shock of using a hand dryer.
Habit Stimulus – We are aware that there is a risk of creating OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) by reinforcing or overemphasising the possible negative impact of not washing your hands. Our ‘Handwash High 5’ reinforces good practise without emphasising all the nasty and negative things that could happen if you were not to wash your hands properly. The reality is that day to day hand washing is low risk – it is a bathroom not an operating theatre and we need to reinforce good practise without creating worry or unhelpful practises.
The Children’s Hand Hygiene Company are proud to be partnering The Caudwell International Children’s Centre and will donate £10 of every Puff the Magic Dryer sold to the centre to further ensure further research and understanding the issues around the away from home washroom environment.