I have a six year old boy with sensory processing disorder. SPD is generally broken down into three types. My son suffers most often from Sensory Over-Responsivity. Over-responsive individuals, or avoiders, are highly sensitive to sensory input and may have extreme reactions to mild stimulation. For example, they might cry out in pain while brushing their hair or gag at very faint smells. Avoiders often feel overloaded and overwhelmed by everyday situations. As a result, they tend to appear anxious, withdrawn, or defensive.
Given that nugget of information, you can imagine how my son responds not only to wearing a mask himself, but also to the change in his visual stimuli when the world around him started suddenly panicking and exclusively wearing masks. He was, for lack of better definition, completely freaked out.
Now, it became apparent that I was never going to be able to get a mask on a child who has a meltdown when the wind blows his hair a certain way- a child who cannot wear a hat, or a watch, or anything that touches his skin in the wrong way. The same child who re-adjusts his socks ten times in the morning before being satisfied with the way they feel on his toes. The same child who cannot simply step out into beautiful sunshine without being completely at a loss for words for how out of control he feels inside. I sought a mask exemption for my child right away. Luckily, we were granted that exemption by his pediatrician, although, I fear that should schools require more explanation, we would be completely screwed. That same pediatrician has since retired and those seeking mask exemptions are more frequent.
My son lives in fear of people in masks. He cannot see expressions, and he has a very strong sense of how people feel. Without seeing facial expressions, he lives in constant fear that someone is angry with him. He asks daily when the coronavirus will be over. He is frightened by his own family wearing masks. So much so, that I do not wear a mask in his presence, ever. Even if that means I am theonly parent at school drop off, OUTSIDE, not wearing a mask. For a child who longs so very deeply to fit in, yet always, always feels like he doesn’t, this has completely unraveled his disorder in a way that has become all but impossible to deal with. He is the only human, adult or child, in his school that I’ve seen who doesn’t wear a mask. We changed schools just to ensure that they would have a psychologist on hand to deal with his issues.
When we got our chihuahua a bandana, he asked if dogs also had to wear masks.
I am so very sick of the way this is affecting our children, especially those who struggle with bullying, sensory disorder, psychological struggles, and etc.