This may be the most useful tip you'll get all year. From James:
My son had the bejebus scared out of him by the autoflushing toilet when we were just starting training. I don't blame him, me holding him over the pot trying to keep him from falling in while he did his business. Then out of nowhere WOOSH!
Since then, he's been very concerned whenever he has to confront one. I've tried to stand in front of the sensor or hold my hand near it, and it works sometimes, but it needs to work ALL THE TIME! I found that if you drape a length of toilet paper over the sensor (folded over a few times), you can fool the Potty Eye. Then when he's all set we can pull it off and let the flush happen.
No more worrying about getting sucked down the pipes and he gets a kick out of fooling the potty!
Even now, both my kids are wary of autoflush toilets. When my son was in preschool and we were stuck in an airport restroom somewhere dealing with a particularly loud self-flushing toilet, he yelled, "Who's the jerk who invented this? Didn't he know that kids have issues?"