The Mask Debate

So as we are in the midst of the Coronavirus Pandemic, almost every living soul has been given a new set of guidelines or rules to live by. Having to wear a mask is more likely a requirement in most states of the United States if not the World. However, many locales have exemptions for individuals with disabilities. In many cases this can include autistics, however many many retailers still have the right to mandate services provided in a alternative format if one does not wear the mask, and yes there are some who will not accommodate the non-compliance of not wearing a mask in a establishment.

For my point, as many critics say, I am one of the sheep and follow the rules. At first, wearing a mask wasn’t easy for me, but as time went on during the pandemic it has gotten better for me. Now I know not all autistics can tolerate the wearing of one, but I do interact with several who have them built just or them, as I did. There’s Social Stories out there for those who need it and with the right education, if one is able to understand why, it can be done. Yes, there’s autistics that do not comprehend the importance of wearing a mask. This has been debated in a grocery store in Eastern Pennsylvania, and the youngster was offered a free ride by a understanding police officer because of a family situation and the inability of the child to tolerate the mask and the store not willing to accommodate.

As such, we have a local grocery chain here that has a zero-tolerance policy on not wearing the mask. If you do not, you are asked to leave and if you do not comply, police are called. The alternative is drive-up/pick up services. Yes, if choose not to wear the mask, the establishment, in most cases (as it is in Pennsylvania) has the right to eject you from the store, and offer you an alternative method for you to receive services. In the local chain’s situation, dozens of persons with disabilities have filed complaints with the company for being denied access. So if you do not get access, be prepared for an uphill battle.

Likewise, I have had to adapt to my day program’s policy of wearing a mask there, this is for seven to nine hours on any day I attend, minus the time I eat or work, as their policy is slightly different. Anyway, the remainder of the time I am required to wear a mask. If I do not wish to, virtual services (which I use on the days I do not attend in person) are available to me. However, If I want my job attending these services are required in person, so I tolerate the mask and go and for 90% of the time I can manage given the room temperature and other necessary parables.

As such, healthcare providers are transitioning back to in person care, and if you wish to receive services, a mask must be worn. I did go to my first appointment today, and for the most part I was comfortable in it as the air was regulated and the foot traffic was less. I still qualify for telehealth but I chose to visit the doctor as a way to get acclimated to the “new normal.” Psychotherapy and In Home Services are part of my plan of the next things to be transitioned in to being more in person than virtual.

Nonetheless, I know that my mask protects those around me and the others that choose to wear masks protect me. Now, I am completely understanding of ANY person who cannot wear a mask (especially an autistic, because there probably was a time I wouldn’t tolerate it). However, if a person has a likeliness to not choose to wear it because its convenient, then that is when I feel frightened for my safety.

For Over six weeks, Pennsylvania has seen a flattening or lowering of the curve of daily cases. In recent days, this number is going up both locally and statewide again. In some parts due to the demonstrations and protests and reopening of gathering like events. Although our governor has been doing his due diligence in mitigating the spread. The pure ignorance by those able to not follow guidelines by social distancing and wearing masks has for in my belief bringing an uptick in cases to the area, as it is at an all time high in the South and Western Regions of the US. The latter is due spread occurring in tourist locales.

So in closing, yes I am for masks for I feel they are a must in stopping the spread of this nasty thing. Yes I know there’s several that cannot wear one, give it twenty years ago, I would’ve been one of them that would dislike it. But in these ever changing times, we must adapt and adhere to be safe. I understand some cannot wear them, however if you feel they are in the crossfire of being at risk or have symptoms, please try your best to keep them safe. It’s for everyone’s safety

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