Face Masks – Our Latest Challenge!

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Fabric remnants to make face masks


With the CDC recently recommending face masks, it created a new normal (and challenge for our special needs family) as states begin to slowly open back up. I understand, and did long before it was recommended, that wearing a mask would protect me a little, but others even more, particularity with a virus that can be carried by a person who does not have any visible symptoms.

With that in mind, I made a cloth mask for my husband long before it was mainstream or mandated in the state where we live. He works in the shipping industry, and, as you can imagine, his essential-ness has been highlighted by this pandemic. Online shopping has never been more important!

Do it yourself Masks

Although I have a sewing machine, I really only know the basics. (Like, the stuff I learned in the eighth grade, basics). Luckily, making a simple face mask with pleats is fairly easy. I am using remnant fabric and thread I have laying around. With a quick You Tube tutorial, I made my husband a mask with a pocket in the back. The pocket allows the mask to hold an additional layer, like a paper surgical mask, for example.

Homemade cloth masks

Don’t forget a mask lanyarD

As we get closer to school opening, I want to be sure that the mask I send my kids to school with come home with them! The idea of kids setting their masks down who-knows-where during mask breaks makes me a little uneasy. With that, I tried to find a mask lanyard – but most had lobster clips that my kiddo would not be able to navigate due to fine motor challenges. I also could not find one that had a safety break-away …another must have. So, I made my own! Get one here!

infection control

We are doing everything we can to keep the virus out of our home. It would be a lie to say I was not worried about any of us getting sick. The truth is, I am utterly terrified that my otherwise healthy but cognitively impaired daughter will get sick. We know that important life-saving treatment decisions are happening due to limited equipment; ableism has never been more front-and-center. This lurks in the back of our minds as we try and move forward each day with a calm confidence.

We follow a protocol when my husband comes home from work, or we’ve been in a public place. It includes placing our clothing in a plastic bag until it can be washed (including masks), wiping down doorknobs and other areas we’ve touched as we come in, and taking a shower. (After re-reading that I need to say — perhaps not exactly in that order – as we are not running around unclothed while disinfecting. But you get the idea.)

Staying at home

Other than walking outside occasionally, my kids have not left our home since early March. Last weekend we took a walk to see my parents – from the end of the driveway. We also made a stop at the local Dairy Queen, an occasion to use our cloth masks.

Understanding social distancing and face masks

Our learning agenda continues to expand, and now includes the importance of wearing a mask. It also includes hand washing, good cough etiquette, and social distancing. In our household we used our wearing of masks as a teaching tool, and talked with our kiddos about it. This made our walk to the Dairy Queen donning masks a little bit easier.

I often use social stories to help teach challenging topics, and now is no different. I created social stories about the ways the CDC says to protect yourself and stop the spread of Coronavirus. These include hand washing, good cough etiquette, social distancing and wearing masks. The stories are easy-to-read, one page, and printable. They are available (at no cost) for anyone who might find them helpful here.

Click here to get social stories about hand washing, social distancing, cough etiquette, and wearing masks.

I sincerely hope everyone is well. Being a special needs family without much support is a challenge, and for some, that lack of support is devastating. My heart sinks each time I think about the collective regression for our kids who are missing school and important therapies. I remind myself each day to do the best I can, and that it is enough. I practice showing grace to others, not knowing what is happening behind closed doors. Not everyone is experiencing this pandemic in the same way. I also hope you’ve found your online tribe and are finding some comfort during this time.

Be safe.

Related Links

Special Needs Learning and COVID-19 School Closures
COVID-19: Practical Tips for Preparing your Home
COVID-19 and Special Needs Families
20 Activities to do without Electronics


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One comment

  1. We keep trying to practice wearing the masks with Ben, but he’s not having it! I worry that when schools finally do reopen we’re gonna have problems. On the plus side, he goes to an autism non-public school and I’m sure he won’t be the only kiddo with mask avoidance. 💌

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