Parent Network of WNY’s Behavior Intervention Coordinator was recently interviewed by WLVL Radio 1340 AM/105.3 FM regarding kids wearing masks. Please read the interview from August 3rd or listen to the recording on the link below!
WLVL: On the line with us now is Debbie Schutt, Behavior Intervention Coordinator for Parent Network of Western New York. Debbie, we appreciate you taking some time with us and getting you on the air here on WLVL.
Debbie: Thank you for having me. I am happy to be here this morning.
WLVL: Debbie we have information about a Zoom meeting that you are conducting this Thursday regarding children and sort of helping parents to teach their children how to be comfortable wearing masks in this day in age of COVID-19. Could you fill us in about some of the information that you’re going to be passing on.
Debbie: Absolutely. This Thursday is the first of four different sessions that we’re doing on Zoom through the month of August about kids wearing masks and some of the challenges that parents may face with getting their kids to wear masks. It is free and available to anyone. You can sign up by going to our website at www.parentnetworkwny.org. The goal is to try and help parents, professionals, caregivers, or other family members to overcome some of the challenges and barriers that might go along with kids, or kids with special needs, wearing masks. We anticipate wearing masks will probably be part of the process for returning to school. So, we wanted to get out in front of that a little bit and help prepare those families so that masks are not a barrier come next month when school, in some form, will hopefully resume.
WLVL: Now when it comes to all the challenges what do you think is like the one overall challenge? Is it physically having to wear masks? Is it having the mask actually work if the kids are touching it? You know, they can’t stop, you know if the kids are always moving their hands and moving around? Or is it the mental aspect of it, you know, like the kind of weirdness of everyone wearing a mask? What do you think is the overall biggest challenge we’re going to face if this happens?
Debbie: I think it is a lot of different things and I think most families in most children it depends on their age or their developmental level. I have seen and heard younger kids that are fearful when they see people in masks. They don’t understand it. They think it looks….
WLVL: It looks scary.
Debbie: It looks scary. Absolutely. For some other kids, for example children with autism or with other sensory processing challenges or developmental delays, it could be physically uncomfortable. They might not like the feeling of the mask on their skin or looped around their ears. For other people there are communication barriers and challenges that already exist, so wearing a mask can just add to that and make that part of life a little more difficult. And other people might have anxiety or another aspect of mental or emotional health that is the barrier that needs to be overcome.
WLVL: Debbie, with the information that you folks will be passing on through the Zoom meeting, the first of which is on Thursday, do you think you, or maybe you have spoken to, some of the school officials. Do you think that they have the plans of addressing the same concerns because they’re the ones that will be on the front lines on that first day of school, if and when that happens, to deal with these issues.
Debbie: I have not talked directly to any school officials. I have spoken to some teachers or other professionals, such as speech therapists or occupational therapists, that work with kids in schools. They are concerned about their ability to get the kids to wear the mask and keep the mask on. I can tell you that the people that I have seen that have signed up for one of these events already, almost all of them are school professionals. I found that to be interesting and I think that it is going to be a significant barrier for kids being successful in school, in person.
WLVL: Okay. Thank you once again. That was Debbie Schutt, Behavior Intervention Coordinator for the Parent Network of WNY.