Ash Board Member Jessica Militich

Sensory Friendly Masks


As a person with autism, my sensory issues are a facet of life most people aren’t aware of. The most sensitive sensory region is my face. The threat of corona virus and state regulations are mandating I face my sensory issues by wearing a mask, pun intended. Yet my greatest mask problem loomed outside the confines of sensory challenges. I have thick straight hair which tangles easily. Mask wearing didn’t help this challenge, instead ripping out strands of hair with each use.

My family helped me deal with this challenge through unique solutions. My aunt sewed me a really cute cupcake mask that I love wearing! I have a pillowcase from the same fabric, because it symbolizes a happy time when my aunt and I ate red velvet cupcakes to celebrate my birthday. I am reminded that happy time whenever I see my mask and this memory makes me want to wear my mask. My aunt also sewed flexible metal inside my mask so that I could adjust my mask in a way that was comfortable over my nose. When I complained to my mother about my mask pulling out hair, she helped me measure a comfortable tightness to tie the mask at. Now, I slide my mask over my head comfortably without losing any hair! Mitigating my mask challenges led me to offer help below, for families who have children that like me, had sensory challenges with wearing masks.

1. Make it fun:
People are more likely to do anything when it is more fun. By making the process of wearing the mask fun, individuals with autism may be more willing to mask, despite sensory challenges. Masking can be made fun by:

    • Have the person choose what mask they want
    • Provide a mask in the person’s favorite color
    • Allow people to decorate their mask with stickers and glitter
    • Have people make their own mask
    • Let people get masks with a character they like
    • Have multiple masks so people can choose what mask they want to wear for the day. One may even make a mask wearing routine where each day of the week corresponds to wearing a specific mask.
    • If one is wearing a mask featuring a favorite character, they may want to dress up like the character on their mask

2. Material:
People with autism can be sensitive to certain types of material. Below are suggestions on finding the right material for the person:

  • Cloth masks are usually more comfortable than paper masks
  • Be aware of materials the person doesn’t like when looking for masks
  • Let people try on different types of masks until they find a material and style that works best for them
  • When washing a cloth mask, try not to use scented laundry soap as it might bother the mask wearer
  • When washing a cloth mask, add fabric softener to make the mask more comfortable

3. Tightness:
Your child might not like wearing a mask simply because it is too tight. If your child is able to adjust the mask tightness, they will have a feeling of control associated with wearing the mask.

  • Masks that have elastic straps around ears may be bothersome
  • Go for masks with straps one can tie and let the mask wearer tie the straps at a tightness which they prefer
  • If a child can’t tie strings, replace strings with Velcro or buttons
  • Masks with an adjustable nose bridge allow the mask wearer to have more control over how tight the mask is against their face

4. Modifications:
Wearing masks comes with challenges unique to the individual. One can modify such challenges described below

  • Remove facial piercings before putting mask on because masks can shove facial piercings into the skin which is painful.
  • Have your hair cut to prevent the mask from messing it up or pulling it out. This is the next step on my mask wearing adventure!
  • Chew gum while wearing mask: This prevents one from smelling their breath, captured by the mask and can be of great value to those with smell sensitivities. Chewing gun can also provide a distraction to help the mask wearer with their mask
  • Eat candy while wearing mask: This prevents one from smelling their breath and provides a positive reinforcement for wearing a mask
  • People who have seizure disorders may need to wear clear masks so people around them can see warning signs of upcoming seizures
  • Placing tissues under the top of a mask prevents one’s glasses from fogging up

5. Practice:
When the right mask has been selected and modified, have the mask wearer practice wearing their mask in controlled environments or while watching TV. Have a person wear the mask for a short amount of time and gradually build up to longer durations of time.

6. Explanation:
Explain to your child why they need to wear a mask and ensure them that you and others will wear a mask too.

7. If this doesn’t work:
If your child still isn’t able to wear a mask, try to get a doctor’s referral for them to not need to wear a mask in public. If this route is taken, inform your child that they will have to do more proactive sanitation procedures for not wearing their mask.

Below is a link to a good picture site in multiple languages on the importance of wearing a mask:


Below are articles which inspired this article providing further reading:


Below are links to online mask stores offering a variety of styles:


Written by Jessica Militich

A superhero kid with autism shines in new PBS Kids’ series

A Superhero Kid with Autism Makes his Debut in a New PBS Kids’ Series

The Star Advertiser posted a great article today on the new PBS Kids’ Series “Hero Elementary”. The setting of this animated series is inside a grade school where four superhero students are learning to master their special powers. Read the story by Mark Kennedy, Associated Press here: OR visit the PBS Kids Website here:


UCEDD COVID-19 Online Survey

––Dear Colleague:

We are writing to ask your help to find out how families and caregivers with children, youth or adults with disabilities are doing during this unprecedented crisis with COVID-19, and what issues they are facing.

The survey is online and anonymous, and is being sent to identify gaps in the current communication and public health messaging about COVID-19 specific to families and caregivers of children, youth or adults with disabilities and to identify issues facing parents of children with disabilities during this time.

If you are in this category, please help us and fill the survey out. If you are not, can you send to as many caregivers as you can, either through personal emails or mailing lists. The survey is being sent to you by the University of Connecticut Center of Excellence in Disabilities.

The title of this study is The knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of parents of children with disabilities in response to COVID-19”. It will take up to 15 minutes to complete.

We are looking for adults over 18. Completing the survey is voluntary; you may skip any questions you wish, and may stop the survey at any time for any reason.

To participate click this link: UCEDD COVID-19 online survey

We sincerely appreciate you taking the time to participate in this study. If you have any questions about this study, please contact Dr. Mary Beth Bruder ( or Dr. Tara Lutz ( The study has been approved by UConn Health IRB (20X-185-2).

Thank you.


Dr. Mary Beth Bruder, Co-PrincipaI Investigator Dr. Tara Lutz, Co-Principal Investigator

Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service
University of Connecticut School of Medicine
Phone: 860-679-1500

Image by enriquelopezgarre from Pixabay

Statewide: ALERT: National Disability Benefits Scam – SPIN E-blast


Remember: your stimulus checks will come automatically. No one is needed to get your check to you, it will come directly to you via mail or direct deposit.

Dear DD Council Network,

We have received a few calls from self-advocates informing us that “National Disability” is calling them to help them get their stimulus check.
Here is the number they are calling from (808) 400-9140, here is their web page, and here is their disclaimer:

This website is an ADVERTISEMENT. The Social Security disability information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice, and should be used for informational purposes only. Utilizing this website or contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. National Disability is neither affiliated with nor endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any other government entity or agency. Your claim may be assigned to another reputable representation organization for service.

Please share with your networks and let the individuals we support and serve know of this scam, as well as their parents, family, and friends.

Thank you
Daintry Bartoldus
Executive Administrator
Hawaii State Council on Developmental Disabilities
Princess Victoria Kamamalu Building
1010 Richards Street, Room 122
Honolulu, HI 96813
Office Ph.: (808) 586-8100 Fax: (808) 586-7543
Direct Line: (808) 586-8166

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.

Autism Awareness

April Message From Dennis


We hope that all of our families are managing the current situation with being somewhat, if not totally, quarantined as best you can! We know this must be a difficult time for all of you and our thoughts and prayers are for a quick resolution to this crisis and that you all remain healthy through it all.

April is National Autism Awareness Month, and along with affiliates across the country with similar events and celebrations, we were scheduled to hold our annual “Hele for Autism and Resource Fair on April 11th. Regrettably, we made the difficult decision to postpone our event until Saturday, May 30th. As we all navigate through the challenging days ahead, and as we learn together how to care for our families, it’s even more important that we continue to work together to enhance understanding, promote acceptance, and inspire transformation.

We will continue to keep you updated by social media and on our website. As well, we encourage you to visit for additional resources and information or call the National Helpline at 1(800)3-AUTISM.

On behalf of the entire Autism Society of Hawaii family, we wish you well and thank you for your compassion, commitment and support of our community and our mission to serve children and adults on the autism disorder spectrum and work to develop opportunities for those affected so that they can reach their highest potential.

Take care,

Dennis Maher
President – Board of Directors
Autism Society of Hawaii

Department of Health update on persons that have(Individual Service Plans) ISP’s or their Caregivers during this period of shutdown

CDC Estimate on Autism Prevalence Increases by Nearly 10%

Estimate on autism prevalence increases to 1 in 54 children in the U.S.

In a report issued by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate autism prevalence has increased by nearly 10%. The number of autism prevalence has increased from 1 in 59 to 1 in 54 children. This report reflects a continued increase in the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the United States.  – Read More

Image by karelinlestrange from Pixabay.

COVID-19 Image

Federal Coronavirus Website and Guide to State Lockdowns

Federal Coronavirus Website:

Website includes specific resources and information for:

  • Travelers
  • Households
  • Pregnant women and children
  • People who are sick
  • Small business owners
  • Schools
  • Healthcare professionals
  • Laboratories
  • Latest news and statistics
  • Rumor control

A Guide to State Coronavirus Lockdowns: (best using Chrome or Edge)
State lockdown measures imposed across the U.S. vary in the scope and severity of the limits on where people may travel, work and shop away from their homes. Here are highlights of the orders in the largest states.
(Source: The Wall Street Journal)

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.

JFK Partners

COVID-19 Resources: Specific for Individuals with I/DD and ASD and their families

Below you will find some resources that are specific for individuals with I/DD and ASD and their families. This information/message was distributed to the subscribers of the University of Colorado Denver “JFKPARTNERS” list.

2020 Census Information image

2020 Census Information

Once every 10 years the Census Bureau fulfills a constitutionally mandated count of every person living in the United States. The data collected from the Census help provide federal funding and key programs that support and protect the rights of people with disabilities. Please download and review the two accompanying documents to learn more.