The only people I have encountered online who do not view automatic flushing public toilets as the bane of their existence are childless adults or parents with older children. For them it’s the revolutionary answer to not having to flush someone else’s excretions. For the rest of us, it’s The Monster that makes an already tricky situation 10 times worse. Potty training while out of the house can be difficult enough as it is. Our portable folding potty seat (to reduce the risk of child falling into the too big toilet) always slid around and felt unstable. But add in the fact that at any time the toilet could misinterpret a shadow and suddenly, startlingly whoosh and spurt right under your exposed area is just too much.
Early Bird was newly potty trained when this first happened to him. The startle, the noise, everything aligned to create an instant fear of any and all public toilets. For the next five years the question was asked fearfully, “Is it a sensor potty?” And increasingly the answer was, “yes.” There was a stretch of time when he flat out refused to use a public toilet at all. Eventually he learned that he could trust me to keep my hand covering the sensor while he went. Then he started getting rather old/big to be in the women’s rooms, and his big brother defended him against the sensor. But this summer of his 8th year on the earth, a wonderful thing happened. We were using the family bathroom at the YMCA (new to us bathroom.) Early Bird used the toilet without even thinking to ask what it was, and when he got off and it flushed on it’s own he realized what had happened….and he was thrilled! He had conquered his fear without even realizing it! We haven’t tested one out since then, but here’s hoping that carries over to all sensor potties from now on.
I writing this because I know we are not alone with this struggle and I want others to know that they are not alone and that there is hope for the future. And in the meantime, I’ve heard sticky notes to cover the sensory work, though I’ve never tried it. Toilet paper folded over the sensor has been suggested, too, though that seems more chancy.