Delaware County Medical Society Summer/Fall 2020 - 8

FEATURE

Verbalize clear, concise directives
*	 Whenever you ask children to engage in non-preferred
activities (and mask wearing in the beginning is
probably going to be non-preferred), make sure to
use clear, concise directives. Don't add too many steps
or too much white noise in your instructions. For
example, you could simply say, "First put on your mask,
then we're going to the store." Or, "First put on your
mask, then we're going to play a video game." The more
clear and concise the better. Also, the more appealing
the reward, the better, especially at the outset.
*	 These techniques are also directly applicable to older
individuals with intellectual disabilities or autism.
Mask wearing can pose a significant difficulty for adults
with cognitive challenges. It is important to remember
to take time to explain and gradually introduce masks
to them as well, and to include rewards for success.

	

*	Practice and Praise!
*	 Start small! There are many steps in wearing a mask.
With some children the first steps may be holding the
mask, or putting it close to their face, then holding it
on their face, but not attached. Little steps can make a
big difference.
*	 Once the mask is on, identify success as a short time
period! Practice mask wearing in short intervals and
give lots of positive praise throughout. For some kids,
small intervals might be seconds, minutes, or as long
as a half hour. It's okay if the child can't manage a
long duration in the beginning, that doesn't mean you
shouldn't practice!

*	 Give praise early and often! Children are highly
motivated by praise (for more about the power of play
and praise, check out the Child Guidance Resource
Centers' blog at cgrc.org/powerofplay/). Give lots of
positive reinforcement and encouragement while your
child practices wearing their mask.
Wearing a mask is a new skill; one that takes patience and
practice to develop. Building motivation and independence,
using visuals, giving clear directives, practicing, and
praising can all help your child as they adjust to wearing a
mask in the coming weeks. If you are looking for additional
resources or have patients with specific questions, feel free
to contact Liia Richmond at Lrichmond@cgrc.org. We are
always available to consult around behavioral and mental
health issues.
Social story for mask wearing: https://bit.ly/3f21e8s
Social story explaining COVID-19: https://bit.ly/3056d3R
Brianna Matey, PhD, is the Vice
President for Clinical Services at
Child Guidance Resource Centers.
She has been with Child Guidance
for over 10 years and oversees
CGRC's Delaware and Philadelphia
county services. Brianna received her
graduate degree in Counseling from
Boston University and Doctorate
degree from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
and she is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Licensed
Professional Counselor. Brianna specializes in working
with individuals to support their needs around emotional
regulation, developmental delays, anxiety, depression, and
coping skill development.

*	 Practice during preferred activities. This will help build
the habit and make it more enjoyable for a child by
providing a good distraction. When children are doing
something non-preferred, they will be more likely to
focus on the mask. Whereas if they are engaged in a
highly preferred activity, the child is going to more
likely be distracted from their mask because they enjoy
what they are doing! Choose something that you know
they enjoy: watching a show, going outside, playing
with a specific toy, etc. Then say, first we're going to put
on a mask, and then we will get to the fun part.

6

DELAWARE COUNTY MEDICINE & HEALTH

summer/fall 2020


http://www.cgrc.org/powerofplay/ https://www.bit.ly/3f21e8s https://www.bit.ly/3056d3R

Delaware County Medical Society Summer/Fall 2020

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