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Child & Teen Health

Helping people with autism spectrum disorder manage masks and COVID-19 tests

June 10, 2020

About the Authors

photo of Robyn Thom, MD

Robyn Thom, MD, Contributor

Dr. Robyn Thom is a child and adolescent psychiatry fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and McLean Hospital. She will begin practicing at the Lurie Center for Autism as a staff psychiatrist when she completes her fellowship … See Full Bio
View all posts by Robyn Thom, MD
photo of Karen Turner, OTR/L

Karen Turner, OTR/L, Contributor

Karen Turner is an advanced practice occupational therapy patient navigator for individuals with autism and intellectual/developmental disorders at Massachusetts General Hospital. In this unique role, she provides care planning and coordination services, as well as individualized … See Full Bio
View all posts by Karen Turner, OTR/L


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Aileen Hammar
June 14, 2020

Is there any research happening around use of clear face shields (attached to hats or with Velcro strap) vs cloth masks? They are preferable in terms of expressive and receptive speech, eye glasses, hearing aids, and social cues. Compliance is likely to be better and they’re washable/reusable. We know there are limits to hand made cloth masks. As a teacher (dyslexia intervention, deaf education) we need a solution.

Karen Turner
June 18, 2020

Hi Aileen, There is a lot of innovation currently happening with clear masks and face shields. On thing I’ve learned is that masks must have a certain level of filtration to be effective and safe. For example, droplets may be forced out or pulled in around the sides of an entirely plastic mask/face shield, making the wearer and those around him/her at higher risk of exposure. I am hopeful we will see more options available very soon, and I can’t agree more with you that a better solution is needed.

Carlos piniero
June 10, 2020

My son is non verbal it will be difficult, I took him out of the program in mid March. I’m not really sure if I will be able to send him back. My is 44years old he is very happy in staying home all day. I am worried of how they going to handle this pandemic .

Karen Turner
June 18, 2020

Hi Carlos, Thank you for sharing about you and your son. I am so glad to hear he is happy and well. You are not alone in your worries about how programs will adapt. Staff at programs I have interacted with have been working hard to offer support and ongoing programming virtually, and are also so dedicated to helping those without access to the Internet. I encourage you to stay in touch and communicate your concerns with the staff at your son’s program as you decide what is best for you and your son.

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