6 Tips To Get Your Child To Wear A Mask
Masks can help stop the spread of coronavirus not just by protecting the wearer, but by preventing the wearer — who could be an asymptomatic spreader — from breathing and spitting their germs everywhere.
It may be scary for some children with ASD to start wearing a mask. Here are some tips to help them through it.
1. Use Reinforcers Strategically
Limit your child’s access to reinforcers such as his/her favorite toys and food for a few days, and use them as a reward for practicing wearing a mask. Choose a time when you and your child are calm, instruct your child to wear a mask at home and provide reinforcers for practicing. Gradually increase the time that the child needs to wear the mask. If successful, you can practice outside your home.
2. Be Progressive and Systematic
Use a timer that your child is familiar with. Set the time to 1 second and encourage your child to wear the mask. When time’s up, he/she can remove the mask and receive a reinforcer immediately. You should then extend the required time to 2s, 5s, 10s, 1min, 5min and so on systematically, to get your child used to wearing a mask.
3. Make Wearing a Mask a Routine
Some of the children with ASD love to follow routines. Parents can make wearing mask a routine and present it in the timetable of your child’s for him/her to follow.
4. Desensitization Training
If your child refuses to wear mask because he/her can’t stand the feeling of having things covering his/her face, parents can first practice with your child to cover the nose and mouth with a tissue, and provide reinforcers. Gradually extend the time and use thicker tissue. When your child can bear to cover his/her nose and mouth with a thick tissue, you can switch to a towel for practice. After success, he/she may try use a thinner mask and gradually move on to practice with a regular mask.
5. Cater for Your Child’s Preferences
Some children with ASD refuse to wear mask because they don’t like the color or look of the masks. According to your child’s preference, you can choose a mask with the color that he/her likes. Put a sticker on the mask, or even choose a mask with cartoon print on it.
6. Embedded into Games
You can use the mask as a toy and play assorted imaginary games with your child. Fox instance, use the mask as a towel for the doll, make a tunnel of masks for the toy trains to pass through, and make the mask into a superhero mask for Ironman and Spiderman.
A step-by-step guide video:
Information provided by:Raymond Fung, M.S. ABA, BCBA (Autism Partnership Training Director)
Raymond is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) with a Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis from St. Cloud State University, and currently pursuing his doctoral degree at the University of Bristol in education. Raymond was the clinical director of 2 AP international offices, a conference chair of Hong Kong Association for Behaivor Analysis (HKABA), and a part-time lecturer of a master program of ASD in the Open University of Hong Kong. For over 20 years, Raymond has been teaching individuals with ASD of different ages and functioning levels in 1 on 1, group and school settings at Autism Partnership under the on-going training from Dr. Ron Leaf and his associates. Since 2004, he has been specializing in professional training for therapists, supervisors, schoolteachers, and parents internationally. In 2014-15, Raymond developed 6 mobile applications for individuals with ASD. He consults in China, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Korea, South Africa, and Russia. Currently, he is the training director of AP Hong Kong, and the voluntary consultant of AP Foundation. Raymond has been actively promoting autism awareness and effective treatment by conducting workshops, writing articles for his 2 columns, and hosting a radio program.
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