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Advice From A Special Ed Teacher: How To Pick A Sensory-Friendly Mask For Kids

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Kids with sensory processing issues can be a real struggle for families when shopping for everyday clothing, and new coronavirus mask mandates have created a whole new challenge. But there are some sensory-friendly face masks for kids that can help you manage the situation a little easier. It may take a little trial and error to find the right one for your child, but knowing where to look will hopefully help speed up the process.

Joanna Heglar, a special education teacher in North Carolina, suggests parents of children struggling with sensory issues look for a mask that "stays away from the face [and doesn't] suck in when the child wearing the mask breathes or talks." She also says the mask should be made from a fabric that is "breathable and doesn't feel restricting" and is sized right. "You definitely don't want anything that's too heavy or too big on your child's face."

If the mask itself isn't what's causing your child's sensory reaction, it might be the way it feels on their ears. Ideally, Heglar says, "ear loops should be made from a light, soft fabric." It may also be helpful to try "some type of strap behind the head" or get a mask with straps that wrap behind the head to see if that will make your child feel more comfortable.

Once you've found a mask that's comfortable for your child, you will still want to give them a little time to get used to wearing it for longer stretches of time. Heglar says a lot of her students with sensory issues have grown more comfortable wearing their masks because their "parents were thoughtful and practiced with them" by having them put the mask on and "gradually increasing" how long they wear it at a time.

If you're at a loss for where to begin looking for a sensory-friendly mask, here are a few that may help your child feel a little more comfortable.

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Three-layer mask

Available in both kids and adult sizes, this mask has three layers of protection, domes over the mouth to provide space, and is made from breathable cotton. It stays put using a nylon strap that wraps around the back of the head and can be adjusted for the right fit.

Quilted cotton mask

With its unique design, kids can comfortably wear this mask without compromising its efficacy because it still fits snugly over the nose and chin. It's made from quilted cotton to remain breathable and light on the face and, while it does have ear loops, they have a soft slider to help them stay put without adding extra pressure to the ears.

Ear saver for kids

These adorable face mask hooks for behind-the-ear comfort will not only help hold the mask to your child’s face more securely, but they will also keep potentially irritating ear straps away from your child’s ears. This set of ten features an assortment of dinosaurs and colors, which many kids will get excited about.

Hopefully your child will feel comfortable with at least one of these sensory-friendly mask options.

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