Most Autistic Children Can’t Tolerate Face Masks. Here’s How To Manage It!
Since early April, the California State commanded all citizens to wear facemasks every time they venture outside their houses.
For most people, this represents just an extra task to follow up with. Unfortunately, for parents on the spectrum, putting a mask on their child’s face becomes a nearly impossible task.
Today we will analyze the reasons behind it and ways to manage it with your child.
Autistic Children and Face Masks
No two autistic child are alike. While some of them can endure wearing a facemask, others simply can just not tolerate them. The reason for that can be traced back to the following conditions:
Anxiety: A mask doesn’t block breathing, but it does change the feeling of one’s airflow. For some autistic children, this can feel like suffocation.
Sensory: Some children can’t bear the feeling of mask elastics pulling on their ears. One enterprising mom fixed the latter issue by sewing buttons on her son’s favorite hat and pulling the elastics around those instead.
Visibility: If your child wears glasses, masks may fog them up. There are fixes, such as tucking a tissue between the mask and the bridge of your nose or changing your breathing pattern, but these solutions may not work for children with sensory issues or developmental disabilities.
Smell: Autistic children can be extra sensitive to smell, so be sure your child brushes their teeth before trying on a mask.
Seizures: A significant percentage of autistic children have seizure disorders. Not being able to see an epileptic child’s face can be a safety risk if they have distinctive pre-seizure facial expressions. Masks with clear sections over the mouth developed to aid deaf people, may be an option.
What You Can Do Instead
Whatever you do, it is crucial that you never force your child to wear a face mask, because believe it or not this can be potentially traumatic for him/her.
The following recommendations will ensure your child’s health while respecting his/her mental well–being.
Try different masks: When it comes to masks there are different styles and textures. Make sure to offer your child one that does fit him/her correctly and preferably with his/her favorite characters.
If your son/daughter can not stand to wear a face mask due to sensory issues, we recommend you to do the following:
Exemption Note: Get an exemption note from your doctor explaining that he/she cannot wear a mask because of their autistic sensory sensitivities. Keep in mind that this will require you to reduce (even more) your external interactions.
Walks and Movement: Since your child will require movement to ease his/her stress, we highly encourage you to do so really early in the morning (to avoid people) or just before sunset, when just a few people are around.
Sanitizing Wipes: You will need to disinfect every surface your child has interaction with. From the bench, he/she sits to their toys.
Own Plates and Silverware: Since your child can be an asymptomatic carrier, we highly recommend you to have his/her own plates and silverware. If you have the opportunity you can also buy biodegradable disposables to avoid mix-ups.
Hand Sanitizer: CDC recommends the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers with greater than 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol, so make sure to read labels before making a purchase. Additionally, remember to use it on your child after any external contact or playing.
Avoid Visitors: Since your child is having less protective measures than the rest, we highly encourage you to avoid ALL VISITORS. It’s always tempting to have family coming over, or even just a friend to chat, however, since your child is more vulnerable protecting his/her health is a must.
Wash His/Her Hands: In the context of COVID-19 prevention, you should make sure to wash your and your child’s hands at the following times:
- After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
- After visiting any public space, including public transportation.
- After touching surfaces outside of the home, including money.
- Before and after eating.
- After using the toilet.
- After handling garbage or touching any dirty surface.
- After touching animals and pets.
- After changing babies’ diapers or helping children use the toilet.
- When your hands are visibly dirty.
Additionally, we encourage you to sing a song of at least 20 seconds of duration to ensure proper washing.
We understand that having yourself and your children in quarantine can be challenging. However, we want to remind you that you are not alone and that we are here to answer all your questions related to autism, covid-19, prevention, stem cells, and more. Feel free to contact us in the comment section!
At WSCC, we offer support for autistic families and their children with Stem Cell Therapy treatments that can transform autistic conditions by healing the gut, decreasing inflammation, and improving brain function. We also created an autistic community on Facebook that is destined to offer support and companionship for ASD parents and their families on their journey.
Remember, you are not alone!