What might be enjoyable and fun for many children, can be a very frightening and distressing experience for other children.
‘Book Week’ celebrations and other dress-up days can cause considerable confusion and distress to Autistic children – whose neurological processing relies, to a large degree, on ‘familiarity’ and ‘known’ knowledge (past experiences) to navigate the world.
With many in masks / covered faces, school dress up days can be extremely challenging for many Autistic children. “I thought it would be fun. But people looked strange and creepy, nothing was familiar”.
In support of inclusive approaches recognising the differing abilities, needs and diversity of their school population, many schools have asked themselves the question, “is the wearing of face coverings a necessity for children to delight in dressing up? Does the wearing of face coverings result in some children being excluded and / or not engaging in their learning”? And, have subsequently elected to adopt a policy of no face masks / face coverings on dress-up days.
We look forward to more schools giving consideration to inclusive policies.
“No-one was normal, only creepy and scary.
Masked faces, wolfs, horses, bears, strange things,
Closing in on me. Surrounded. Trapped.
By bodies with no faces.
The faceless moved so quickly.
Running. Too fast for me.
They laughed. Like it was fun?
Like nothing was different – when everything was wrong.
In a voice I know, from a body I don’t,
It makes no sense that they say “Come with me”.
My feet can’t move. They are stuck. Frozen. Glued.
Everything I know has disappeared.
Screams in my head that they can’t hear.
“Don’t touch me. Please leave me alone”.
I don’t know who or what you are –
When you are not you.
I don’t understand how they think
Scary is fun”.