Practice, Predictability, and Patience.
HELPING KIDS WITH SENSORY ISSUES ADJUST TO MASK-WEARING
Most people have adjusted to wearing a mask during the Covid-19 pandemic, but the strange and new feeling of a mask against the face can be difficult for children with sensory processing differences.
Parents, here are some suggestions for making the transition to mask-wearing easier on your child – and you!
1. The Mask.
• If you already know the things your child can’t stand, like seams, tags, or synthetic fabrics that may feel scratchy, choose masks that don’t have these irritants.
• Get masks that are properly sized for your child’s age and face, with adjustable straps to give them a just-right fit. A soft slider on straps will be better than hard plastic.
• Create some fun with a favorite color, or some of the many printed masks that are available with character and cartoon themes.
2. Practice. Introduce the mask at home when your child is calm and relaxed. Try it out for maybe five minutes at a time, and work up gradually to longer periods. It may be helpful to do this initially when your child is distracted by an enjoyable activity, so they notice the mask less. (By the way, the CDC does not recommend masks for children under age 2.)
3. Predictability. Schedule regular practice times and enlist your child in remembering mask time. Let your child experience mask-wearing in different settings beyond indoors, such as outdoors in different weather, in the car, visiting grandparents, going shopping or to the doctor. Explain that there are times and places when masks are required for everybody, like at school.
4. Patience. Changes and transitions can be difficult for children and a challenge for parents. Be gentle with yourself as well as your child, and give the process time. With practice and patience, most children will eventually learn to adjust to wearing a mask.