Help for people with & # 39; Autism spectrum disorder & # 39; to manage masks and COVID-19 tests – Harvard Health Blog

The spread of disease & # 39; COVID-19 & # 39; presented many new challenges for people with & # 39; Autism spectrum disorder & # 39; (ASD). ASD features, including weaknesses in social and communication skills, repetitive behaviors, persistence, and especially emotional tolerance, make face-to-face coping and COVID-19 screening experience particularly challenging.

The challenges of wearing an ASD face mask

Many people with ASD are very sensitive to contact, and the face is particularly so. Wearing a face mask has many negative feelings. On the surface, there is a scratch on the fabric, a tight connection where the mask covers the skin, and elastic bands. The sensations below the mask are not much better and include the warm, humid smell of recycled air. In addition, respiratory and respiratory sensitivities can feel limited, leading to anxiety and anxiety in many individuals with ASD. While wearing a mask is not uncommon, these negative emotional experiences can be greatly enlarged in people with ASD.

In addition to these emotional barriers, masking also creates barriers to social relationships. & # 39; Autism spectrum disorder & # 39; it can include poor vision skills, making the ability to accurately read someone else's face under a mask, far from being socially appropriate, more difficult than usual. Furthermore, when looking at the other person's face while wearing a face mask, the eyes are the primary area of ​​the face. Individuals with ASD often find it difficult to deal with their eyes, adding another challenge to their social-media empire. These issues can lead to communication and confusion. Because jealousy disturbs the voice, the dialogue becomes even more difficult. Fortunately, there are several strategies that can make wearing a facial mask easier.

What to do?

  • Demonstrate using a face mask for an object or person, such as a stuffed animal, doll, or family member.
  • Allow the person with ASD to choose from a variety of facial expressions to find the most comfortable.
  • Begin by putting on a face mask for a short period of time, allowing for rest when needed.
  • Plan the initial demonstrations to be extremely low-key and stable, so that the individual can achieve success wearing a face mask.
  • Use a print or digital photo of the person wearing the face mask to see the aforementioned facial expression. The image can be stored near the door or easily accessible tablet.
  • Wear gum or suck hard candy while wearing a mask, to distract and improve the recycled air odor on the face.
  • Some health centers may have an open face. These masks make the mouth more visible. Susan Muller-Hershon, the American Sign Language / Interpreter at Massachusetts General Hospital, noted that a good face can be very helpful in good communication.

Challenges to the nasopharyngeal CVID or 19 test throat

COVID-19 test requires nasopharyngeal (nasal passages) and / or oropharyngeal (oral) using a cotton swab. These tests can lead to depression for people with ASD due to illness related disorders, systemic ignorance, and chronic changes. Using visual aids to help prepare someone with ASD, who strategically chooses a comfortable experimental environment, can help you with successful operation and reduce anxiety.

What to do?

  • Prepare the COVID-19 test with visual supports:
    • Review a social story. Social stories are a series of pictures and phrases to help you prepare for a new experience. Some people with ASD boast a detailed social story, while others excel in simple instructions. It is important to consider which method works best when choosing a social story. Both detailed and simple social stories, as well as the presentation of a tool called & # 39; COVID-19 & # 39; for the presentation of experimental devices, are available.
    • Watch the video. Individuals with ASD will benefit from watching a video before the exam. New England Journal of MedicineThe nasopharyngeal pilot video contains a simple video and image.
  • Consider the options where the survey will take place: Discuss your local testing site options with your primary care physician or pediatrician to determine the most appropriate screening environment. Some people are trying to get it tested at a local health clinic because it is a well-known medical site. Others may do better in the outdoor testing area because they feel more comfortable waiting in the car. Shared areas can also provide the benefit of allowing a patient to have a comfortable item that will not be allowed inside the clinic due to infection control.
  • When a test is not possible: Some people with ASD cannot tolerate COVID-19 screening, even after full preparation. If so, it is important to continue talking to your primary care physician or pediatrician about a person's symptoms, and if more medical care is needed.

It is important that parents and healthcare providers understand why coping with facial expressions and resistant to COVID-19 screening can be particularly challenging for individuals with ASD. There are a number of strategies, including advanced preparation using visual aids, mild activity, and emotional rehabilitation, as well as online resources, that can be used to help individuals with ASD and their carers up to meet these challenges.