Covid 19 Masks & Testing Autism
So many autism parents that I know are asking about the mask procedures for their children with autism. Some of the issues that I witnessed with being autistic while wearing a mask are our sensory levels are higher due to being sensitive to the touch of the mask on our faces causing us to be anxious. The unpleasant sensation of having the mask on is caused by the scratchy fabrics, and the elastic ear pieces. Finally by wearing a mask, and being autistic the mask can lead to poor visual perception skills. Some of the poor visual perception skills include breathing through the nose being restrictive, difficulty making eye contact, and verbal communication barriers due to the mask being worn.
How To Help
Some ways that parents can help teach their child about wearing their mask is by showing the child the mask on a stuffed animal, family member, or doll and explain why it’s important to wear the mask. The parents can offer their child to try on different masks or fabric styles to see what’s most comfortable. Some ways that parents can teach their kiddos to keep their masks on is by taking their children to the store, and seeing how long they can keep their masks on. A tip that I was told about to make the air return feel better inside the mask is by chewing gum, or sucking on a hard candy with the mask on will make wearing the mask more pleasant.
Some of the hardships of wearing a mask with Autism are it causes distress for people with ASD due to discomfort, unfamiliarity, and change of routine. Some ways to help your kiddo to prepare for the Covid test are to show visual aids about the test beforehand, also practice with a q-tip on a doll, stuffed animal, or person. Make sure to select a comfortable and familiar location to have the test done. Before leaving for the test make sure to pack some comfort items like a blanket, doll, sippy cup, bottle, or pacifier. Right before you leave watch a video of the test to prepare the child on what to expect and answer any questions they may have.
My Mask Experience
So when I first found out about wearing the mask I wasn’t excited because of my Autism. Not only my Autism, also my Asthma. So having to wear a mask isn’t easy for me so I wasn’t happy about the changes. The CDC recommended that those of us who had asthma shouldn’t wear a mask so between that, and Autism I thought I would be exempt so I got excited, however that wasn’t true. So after learning that I would have to wear a mask due to being high risk I decided to find my friend Jen who was making masks to see what fabrics she had. Jen had Autism fabric in puzzle pieces , and my new favorite paw patrol. So jen and I talked and I had four masks made two for me, and two for my fiancé. Once I picked up our masks I tried the ear strings, and I didn’t like them so then I tried my relief strap around my head it was just ok! However to me wearing the mask makes me feel suffocated, and anxious sso due to my Autism, and Anxiety I have to take breaks to breathe. Learning to wear my mask out in public is still hard for me so we try to stay home when we can. However since I’m a teacher and I’m on the front lines I have to wear a mask all day so this be an adjustment. I think having to wear one is important but if I had a choice I wouldn’t wear it. The best advice I can give about wearing the mask is Practice Makes Perfect.
My experience with Covid testing was anything but pleasant. I woke up on Tuesday June 23rd. 2020 with possible COVID symptoms. I had to call urgent care for an appointment. When we arrived at the doctor we had to call to say that we had arrived, we were greeted outside where we had to fill out paperwork that’s when we were told that I had to be tested for Covid. I was taken out of the car for the Covid test the doctor mostly pinned me against my fiancés car, and threw my head back against the car, and attempted to get my test done. The doctor didn’t even ask if I was special needs or anything. After three failed attempts with me screaming bloody murder, and crying asking him to stop he wouldn’t. So on the fourth attempt my fiancé Rob got out of the car held my hand, and angled me correctly, softly talked to me, and we were able to get the test done. After the test we had to wait twenty minutes to go inside to be seen for a sinus, and double ear infection. The doctor gave me Cefdinir and we were on our way home.
What Needs To Change
In my opinion after a bad experience with the Covid test and being special needs I believe for the test day the doctor performing the test should offer the child to lay down on an exam table to distract them from the test. The children’s parents or guardians should be able to provide the child with a comfort item like a stuffed animal, blanket, sippy cup, bottle, pacifier or a weighted blanket. Also I believe that the parent. Or guardian should be able to stay with the child. Once the test is over the performing doctor should provide the child with a sticker or reward to reinforce positive behavior.