ASD and Mask Challenges

Earlier this week, ACT received an email from a BC mother of a six-year-old with autism who had been turned away from a grocery store. She explained:

“Long story short, we were not permitted to enter a TNT store because my son could not wear a mask or a shield. I did wear a mask and told them about our “mask challenge” and the diagnosis, but they said they didn’t know what autism is and didn’t care to know.

In our everyday life we all meet the problem of autistic awareness (or better said unawareness), but this one was so brutal. I feel so isolated, it feels like there is no place for my son in this world, and I am scared for his future. I think that for adult autistics life is even harder, I feel I need to do something to change the situation.”

ACT’s Response

I am very sorry to hear about your experience, I know how painful this type of rejection of our children is from my own experiences during my son’s childhood. You are absolutely right to try to find a way of dealing with this to benefit all children with invisible disabilities. One way to handle this would be to get a letter from your family doctor explaining that your son has autism and that he cannot wear a mask. This can be a generic letter that you can use in any situation. Then send the doctor’s letter to TNT’s head office with a letter from you, explaining what happened and request that they inform the store in question that Dr. Bonnie Henry allows exceptions to be made for medical reasons. You could even copy the letter to Dr. Henry! Keep it calm and factual.

Ask the management of TNT to please inform you when you can return to the store and who to speak to when you go to ensure that you and your child are treated respectfully.

Also, here is the link to ACT’s ‘This Person Has ASD’ card. Print some out and have them ready if anyone challenges you. Ask them to contact ACT and we will explain.

I hope that these suggestions are helpful. I would like to hear what happens.  

Warmest regards to you and your family.

Deborah Pugh
Executive Director
ACT – Autism Community Training