World Autism Awareness Week: Autism & Face Coverings Top Tips | QCS

World Autism Awareness Week: Autism & Face Coverings Top Tips

Dementia Care
March 30, 2021

29th Mar – 4th April is World Autism Awareness Week. The coronavirus pandemic has been particularly tough for many autistic people and their families. The experience of wearing face coverings is new to us all, but can be exceptionally difficult for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). People with ASD can face a variety of challenges ranging from impaired social and communication skills, repetitive behaviours and sensory intolerance that makes wearing a face covering challenging.

Therefore, we have put together some face covering top tips to support autistic people below:

Tips for Supporting with Face Coverings

  • Talk to the person about why face coverings are now required and why it is important. If required, put this dialogue into a form they enjoy (such as story), to allow the person to fully understand the meaning behind it
  • Show a photo of yourself or others wearing a face covering
  • Demonstrate the use of a face covering to the person on a familiar object or person, such as a stuffed animal or a family member
  • Allow the person to choose the fabric they would like for their face covering that is most comfortable for them and which may also depict an interest, that allows them to engage even more with wearing a face covering
  • Practice wearing the face masks for short durations and have breaks when needed
  • When ready for an outing, ensure that it is in a quiet and calm environment to allow the person to get used to the experience
  • Use a photo of the individual wearing a face covering as a visual cue to support wearing it before planned outings
  • Ensure that the person has an alert card available that can be used to support them on outings

Safe Wearing and Disposal of Face Coverings

It is important that when wearing a face covering, steps are taken to ensure that it is being worn and handled safely. Some people may require additional support to understand and maintain a routine, such as the one detailed below:

  1. Washing hands prior to putting on the covering and removing it.
  2. Washing or sanitising hands if touching the face covering.
  3. Do not remove the covering by touching the area that covers the face (mouth, nose, cheeks). Use the straps at the side, or if it does not have straps, use the side of the fabric that covers the ears or neck.
  4.  If using a reusable face covering, wash this at 60°C after use.
  5. Placing the covering into a plastic bag without touching the area that covers the face.
  6. Storing the face covering away until you need to use it next time.
  7. Taking it with you when you go out.

If a face covering causes continual distress for a person they do not have to be worn as part of the Government’s exemption process, more details on this can be found here.