Face masks are required in all sorts of places. Whether you agree with the policy or not, it’s a fact of life right now. The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. Certain stores, venues, and doctor’s offices are all requiring the use of a face mask to enter. So what do you do if you or your child has sensory needs while wearing a mask?
As a typical adult, I do not like wearing one. I do, for the greater good, but it is hot and itchy and starts to rub behind my ears. Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m getting a good breath of air. My glasses fog up with each exhale. I can’t imagine how difficult wearing a mask might be for someone who avoids oral sensory input or has other sensory needs.
Kids can do hard things
Kids (and grown-ups) can do hard things and learn proper coping skills with the right support. A friend of mine set up a reward system for her son. If he would wear the mask for 5 minutes, he was rewarded from a list of fun rewards that he and his family all chipped in to create. The next day, it was 10 minutes, and the time continued to grow each day until he was more tolerant of wearing one. Screen time can make for a good bargaining chip too.
Try different types of masks
Luckily, there are a number of different types of masks.
- Over the ear
- Tie around the head
- Neck gaiter
- Face shield
Make sure you try several different types to find the one that is most comfortable. Once they are accustomed to wearing a face mask at all, your child should be able to let you know which one they prefer.
Hopefully with the right support, lots of patience, and finding a good fit, you will have some luck helping your sensory kid wear a face mask.