The third blog in our latest hand dryer campaign is focused on which hand dryer facilities are best to autistic children. Nurseries and child’s play areas being the most common places a child might use a hand dryer. Finding the best hand dryer for kids with autism is often a difficult task for venues, so here we’re aiming to sum up the topic in a simple and straightforward way. Different children’s reaction to being out in public with their diagnosis can differ. Identifying which quiet hand dryers are best for your venue should be seen as a crucial task.


How Autism Impacts Children and Their Day to Day Lives

Autism is a disability that impacts the lives of those that suffer with it in different ways, across a wide spectrum. Many people with autism struggle with communication skills and find social situations a challenge. While there’s additional sensory challenges too, autism can impact different people in different ways. Some more severe than others.

Children can often struggle with autism at an age when kids around them are developing at different speeds. Schools, in particular, need to be aware of any situations where children are developing signs of autism. They should be aware of how to help in this situation. And being aware of things that trigger children with autism is a good place to start.

When researching the impact of noise on autistic children, one of the first pieces that came up was an article from Spark for Autism. This stated children are often afraid or impacted by the sound of commonplace items such as vacuums and hand dryers. Dryers, in particular, are found in schools and nursery settings and can often be noisy. Quiet hand dryers for kids with autism are available, but many settings still don’t accommodate these features.


What are the Features to Look for in a Hand Dryer for Kids with Autism

Autism can prove a challenge for children from a sensory perspective. This is because their brains process information differently, and this can see children react to everyday situations in different ways. Many hand dryers are loud machines and indeed most dryers compensate volume for drying speed. The only way to ensure a quick dry is a powerful motor which in turn means louder noise. For some kids with autism this would be uncomfortable.

In hand dryers for autistic children, you should look for noise levels and power. While volume can be seen to over-stimulate children, speed and power might also cause them some distress. Finding a gentle machine that’s quiet and effective is a challenge but for specialist venues it’s important to accommodate these things.


What are the Common Sensory Triggers for Kids with Autism When Using a Hand Dryer

Common sensory triggers for autistic children when using a hand dryer are:

  • Noise – hand dryers are often loud and powerful machines, offering an unusual pitch of sounds that can often be uncomfortable for autistic children.
  • Heat – for dryers that are especially warm, children can become uncomfortable when drying their hands.
  • Speed of air – while power and speed are often associated with a quick dry, these sensations can make autistic children uncomfortable.

An example image of a children's bathroom at a nursery or school.

How can Parents or Caregivers Prepare Their Child for Using a Hand Dryer in Public Places

Preparing a kid with autism for using a hand dryer in public places is a tricky task, but it can be done. This should be folded into your current routine for public-facing caregiving, and especially washroom practices. If you know your child is uncertain about either using a hand dryer or loud noises, then introducing these ideas to your child could help them prepare. Introduce similar sensory situations as a practice for the event of using a hand dryer to help desensitize them.

Alternatively, if they are usually particularly sensitive to loud, aggressive sounds or washroom experiences, thinking ahead can help. Preparing noise cancelling headphones could help reduce the sound to a reasonable level. These are just a few small actions you can take to make the experience of using a hand dryer a more comfortable one for young children with autism.


As the washroom and hygiene experts, Direct365 know why these topics are important. For examples of quiet hand dryers, see our dedicated page here. For more information on other hand dryer topics, see our blog. Updated frequently with news and advise on a range of topics, Diret365 are the first stop for reliable advice for small businesses, washrooms and beyond.

You might also be interested in:

Why Quiet Hand Dryers are Best for the Elderly

Which are the Best Hand Dryers for Schools?