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Masking Up

Will your child with special needs wear a mask?

As the shelter-in-place continues, more and more places are requiring patrons and customers to wear masks. Local grocery stores have large signs telling shoppers that their admittance is based on whether they are wearing a mask. Some stores have papers masks on hand to give to customers in case they did not bring their own. Wherever you go these days, masked people are everywhere.

When it comes to children, and even teens, with special needs, wearing a mask can be tricky business. Some children and teens will refuse to wear one. This could be due to sensory issues that stem from having fabric on the skin or elastic wrapped around the ears. The resistance might be related to wearing something out of the norm.

On top of that, seeing people with their faces half-covered can be scary for children. When it's difficult to look at people's eyes, and then all you see are their eyes, it's frightening. There are a number of reasons that kids with special needs don't want to don a mask. And who can blame them?

So what is a parent to do if they must take their child with them to a place that requires a mask for all people? Some suggestions include familiarizing the child with the mask before you go anywhere. Have them pick out and/or decorate their own mask. Create a story about why people are wearing them right now and use photos to help them visually understand what a mask is for.

Despite a parent's best efforts to make it work, it just might not. If there is something pressing and you simply cannot keep a mask on your child, it might be worth it to call ahead and speak with a manager; perhaps an exception can be made.

Because everyone is subject to wearing a mask in public these days, parents are likely to face some kind of issue with this when it comes to a special needs child wearing one. We can hope for mutual understanding and empathy in unique and challenging situations.

There are many things that children and teens with special needs are sensitive to and particular about. Some are going to be very sensitive to having something on their face, whether it's a mask, or a winter scarf, or even sunscreen. As parents, we know what these sensitivities and particularities are; we live with them and manage them every single day.

But have you thought about how someone who steps in to provide care for your child will know about these sensitivities and particularities? Certain things can disrupt your child's day and make them irritated and unhappy. Forcing a mask upon them to go to the store or the doctor's office may be one of many.

If your child does not have the ability to tell others what irritates them or makes them unhappy, scared, etc., then who will? VestLife has a solution for that. All you have to do is upload a document about this to your child's Vest, and the information will be there for whomever cares for them when you are not there.

Have you had any issues getting your child to wear a mask? Do you have any thoughts on helping a child to accept wearing a mask? Let us know.

Photos: @prostooleh



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