When any child is able to overcome a fear, especially a crippling one, it's something to be celebrated. For Sara Farrell Baker, watching her son, August, overcome his fear of public bathroom hand dryers was an "Olympic-size win" that she's celebrating by sharing it with other parents, especially those with children with sensory processing disorders, like August.
"Having a child with sensory issues and autism is not something I anticipated when becoming a mother, but it's become my normal," Sara shared in a post to Facebook. The mum says she's been hyperaware of loud flushing toilets and hand dryers for the last five years because the sounds are usually too much for August to handle — so much so that she's held it in and avoided using public restrooms when out with her son on more than one occasion. On a recent trip to August's new elementary school, however, something changed.
"Today, I walked to August's elementary school, holding his hand and guiding him through a tour of the different areas in this place he will be spending the bulk of his waking hours," she wrote. "We passed by the boy's restroom after we explored the cafeteria and I asked him if he wanted to flush the toilet to check out the noise level and try washing his hands on his own. After washing his hands, August pulled down a paper towel to dry himself off. Then he stared for a moment at the dryer. I told him he could try it if he wanted to — my attempt at encouraging him to try new things with no doubt in my mind that he was going nowhere near that contraption. He placed his hand underneath and I braced myself for the meltdown, shocked that he had done anything and waiting for the fallout. There was none."
Shocked and overwhelmed by August's response to the dryer — he actually loved the blue light under it and "the way the force of the air moved the flesh on his palms" — Sara began tearing up right there in the boys' restroom. She wrote:
I started crying, staring at my son feeling fine and even laughing at something that has been a source of fear and anxiety for him for almost his entire life. It's a stupid hand dryer, but this moment meant the world to me. Seeing him adapting to the world around him and trying new things are small victories, but this journey makes them feel like Olympic-sized wins. My son used a hand dryer today. It was one of the proudest moments of my life.
Sara says the best part of sharing this story so far has been the response from parents who have children like August but never realized there was such a thing as sensory needs. "I learned about sensory processing disorder when he was almost 4 years old, and the relief that came with finding that there was a name for what he was experiencing, and other parents who had been where I was, was incredible," Sara told POPSUGAR. "So knowing that other parents are reading about August and something is clicking for them about their kids, and that those families might get some relief, means the world to me."