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Let's Talk Autism
The Last Website Section We Are Highlighting Is
"Learn About Family Health & Wellbeing"
I CAN...
As we continue to highlight the new Navigating Autism section of our website, we will be introducing you to information and toolkits to help you on your autism journey. While written with parents/caregivers in mind, the information can be useful and beneficial to providers, other family members, and individuals.

This week we are highlighting "I Can...Learn About Family Health & Wellbeing".
Parents, siblings, grandparents, and extended family may all need information and support at different times and in different ways while they help their loved one with ASD thrive. The purpose of this section of the website is to provide information and resources for you and the members of your family as you navigate your way on your family’s autism journey.  You will find information to support parents, siblings, and grandparents. We also offer information and a link to the 8 dimensions of wellness.

To learn more:
Let's Practice Wearing A Mask!
In focusing on family health & wellbeing, it is now more important than ever as we face managing our lives during this pandemic. As schools are looking to reopen next month, it appears there will be instances where children will be required to wear a face mask (depending on your district and the age of your child). Wearing a face mask can be very challenging, but intentional practice and patience can make it a bit easier for those families and individuals who are ready to practice.

Here are some ideas that we highlighted in an earlier newsletter to help you get started:

(These are for children age 2 and older – per the CDC, babies and children under 2 should not wear masks)

Show your child pictures of other people, especially other children their age, wearing a mask. 

Share a social narrative with them about why they need to wear a mask when they leave the house. 

Show your child what it looks like to wear a mask and that you can still see, hear, talk, smile and laugh while wearing the mask. 

Find a mask that has your child’s favorite color, character, or personal interest on it. Or, you could let the child decorate his/her own mask. If it’s possible, present your child with a few different options and let the child pick which mask he/she would like to wear.

Let your child put a mask on the child’s favorite doll or stuffed animal. 

Practice wearing your mask in the comfort of your home, BEFORE you go out into the community.

You can break down the act of wearing a mask into several steps. This can help your child ease into wearing a mask. The following is a list of possible steps you could take. Remember to praise your child every step of the way!

1.      First, you can let your child start by simply holding the mask in their hands. 

2.      When the child is comfortable holding the mask, the child can practice holding the mask up in front of the face (without touching the face or putting the straps behind the ears). One way to do this could be to play peek-a-boo and hold the mask close to the face.

3.      Next, you can help the child put on just one strap behind the ear. When the child is comfortable, you can help the child put on the other strap. The mask could be down at the child’s chin – not covering the mouth and nose - at this time if you are trying to help the child get used to the straps behind the ear.

4.      When the child is feeling comfortable with both straps behind the ear, you can then lift the face mask up over the mouth.

5.      Finally, you can help the child lift the mask over the nose. The mask is on! You can slowly lengthen the amount of time the child wears the mask to help build confidence and tolerance.

If the sensation of the mask is too much for your child, you can try different fabrics and textures of cloth masks. You can also create ways to avoid placing the ear straps directly around the ears as pictured below.  
Boys Hat Link:  https://unskinnyboppy.com/2020/04/five-cute-face-masks-forkids/                         

Other Resources
  • Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment at Mount Sinai has a presentation on sensory issues and wearing masks -- “Wearing Face Masks During the Covid-19 Pandemic: Strategies to Overcome Sensory Issues”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoYgythZB-I  
  •   Autism Little Learners (www.littleautismlearners.com) has shared two resources to help children feel more comfortable about wearing masks
Sometimes it is easier to teach someone a skill through a game approach. Here are two sites that offer a unique approach to teaching.

Stay safe and healthy!
The Oklahoma Autism Network Team