The COVID-19 pandemic has had a substantial impact on our everyday lives. Millions of Americans have had to quickly adapt to working or learning from home. Another noteworthy change is mandatory facial coverings in public. For most of us, this is easy to comply with. But it does pose a difficulty for some children with autism—especially those with sensory sensitivities. Here are some tips to help your child wear face masks for the remainder of the pandemic.
Wear them Around the House
For some children with autism, what is off-putting about face masks is mostly just unfamiliarity. It can feel strange and jarring to see so many people suddenly wearing facial coverings. One way to help your child through this is to wear them at home. If you have other children comfortable with mask-wearing, encourage them to do the same.
This can help normalize the presence of masks until they eventually feel comfortable wearing one on their own!
Give them Options
Long gone are the days when facial coverings were hard to come by. The market is flooded with an abundance of masks with a wide variety of materials and appearances. Use this to your advantage when helping your child with sensory sensitivities to wear a mask.
If you can, lay out a wide variety of different masks for them to try on as they feel comfortable. Choose many different colors, designs, and materials. If you have some already, give them the option of disposable masks as well, as many find them to be more comfortable. Let them choose the one they like best.
Many parents have avoided going on excursions with their children altogether. While it’s up to your discretion as a parent to determine what you’re comfortable with, keep in mind that it’s good for your child to step outside when it’s safe to do so.
If your child reacts poorly to facial coverings, start with small trips as soon as you think they’re ready. A trip to the grocery store may be overwhelming and potentially unnecessary. Why not start with a walk in a nearby park? Being in the outdoors may keep them from being overwhelmed, and get comfortable wearing face masks in shorter intervals.
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center serves families of children and adolescents with disabilities and special needs. We are a team of experts in the fields of pediatric speech, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and behavioral sciences. As a team, we offer intensive hands-on therapy for children and adolescents, as well as informative and useful resources for families. If you are interested in learning more about what we can do to help your family, visit us online or give us a call at (301) 577-4333. Want to get more information on how to help your child thrive? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.