This level of uncomfortable is even more unavoidable and ever-present for those with autism or otherwise sensory-affected disorders. For most of us, we can power through, but for many others, it is something that can completely ruin an outing. So, is there any way to help?
Tips and tricks for wearing a mask:
1. Material: A lot of the masks we see are fabric that has been sewed and ironed or the cotton-plastic disposable ones. These may be too scratchy, thick, immovable, or just poor fitting. Do some light research to find a fabric that is more sensory friendly (faux silks, for example).
2. Practice: The more you do something, the easier it is to do. This is true both for social skills and wearing a mask. Try putting it on for a little bit each day (thirty seconds in the morning, two minutes in the evening).
3. Gum/Headphones: One of the tactics that has helped a few of us was chewing gum and/or wearing headphones and listening to music or a podcast. These help keep the face and mouth area stimulated in another way so that the mask is less overwhelming (for some), as well as helping the air inside the mask smell nice and minty.
4. When to Wear: Depending on the busyness of the area, if you are keeping a respectable distance of six feet or more, it is not strictly necessary to wear a mask. For example, you can leave it off in the parking lot and only put it on once you have crossed the threshold of the store you are going into. Despite this, there are places where it will be absolutely expected to have one on the entire time: doctors’ offices of any sort, governmental buildings (Secretary of State), hair/nail appointments, etc. Try to use your discretion and reference what the signs say.
Feel free to leave us comments if you have another method to wearing masks a bit more comfortably!
Written by: Katy Evans