Autistic child DENIED dental work because of mask bylaw

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As the masked madness continues into 2021, mask exempt individuals are becoming more and more alienated.

Serena, a mother of two autistic sons, is no stranger to this segregation. Both of her sons have been denied medical treatment at various points over the last several months, because of their inability to tolerate wearing a face covering.

Serena lives in Halton Region, where her local health unit has a mask bylaw in effect until May 31, 2021.

The bylaw also outlines exemptions on page three.

Furthermore, the local health unit website states, “Some individuals are exempt from the by-law and not all exemptions are visible. Please be kind and supportive to those who may be exempt from wearing a mask. No person shall be discriminated against for not wearing a non-medical mask or face covering due to an exemption.”

A specific component of autism spectrum disorder is suffering from sensory processing disorder — that means that people with this disorder may exhibit unconventional reactions to sensory stimuli. Having half of one’s face covered by potentially stimulating fabric, while restricting breathing, can be a very stressful trigger for these individuals, and that is what exempts Serena’s sons from this mandate.

Serena explains that one of her sons is more sensitive than the other — one can tolerate a face covering for short periods of time while the other cannot tolerate it at all. She knows, because she’s tried. As a seamstress, Serena has attempted various patterns and fabrics to accommodate her sons’ sensory needs, to no avail.

In our interview, Serena recounts the incident that left her son feeling like a disease-riddled super spreader. When she brought her son to a scheduled orthodontist appointment for much-needed dental work, Serena and her son were accosted by staff and not allowed to enter the main office because of his inability to safely wear a face covering. Confused, and knowing that her son could obviously not receive dental care with a mask on anyway, Serena was beside herself trying to advocate for her son, who was becoming increasingly stressed and traumatized.

Over email, the orthodontist did apologize for how poorly the situation was handled, and offered to accommodate Serena and her son at a later date. The catch: they would need to come in at the end of the day when everyone else had left the office, in order to keep the office staff “safe.”

So much for “no person shall be discriminated against for not wearing a non-medical mask or face covering due to an exemption.”

Needless to say, Serena will be taking her money elsewhere.

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