LOS ANGELES — Masks have become a necessity during the pandemic and may not go away any time soon in Los Angeles County.
Susanna Megerdichian has a pretty pink one that not only makes her feel like a popstar, she said, “It makes me feel safe.”
Megerdichian is part of the Autism community and a lot has changed for her during the pandemic. She can’t see her friends or go to music lessons.
“I felt lonely and sad and to be honest scared a bit,” said Megerdichian.
Another big adjustment is wearing a mask. She doesn’t really like the disposable ones saying, “Paper masks are a little cheap and they come down.”
This is why socially conscious lifestyle brand Rafi Nova reached out to Easterseals Southern California, an organization that provides advocacy and services to those with autism. They worked together to design a mask for those with sensory sensitivities.
Jennifer Johnston is a director for Easterseals and also has three children who are on the Autism spectrum. She knows firsthand how important this is.
“I think for our family and for all families, it’s been a complete toss-up of our lives. The first thing we had to do was help them understand the importance of the mask,” said Johnston.
As a mother and advocate, she was honored to be part of the design process. She said anyone with any ability should feel comfortable wearing a mask to keep them and others safe, specifically those like her son who had a hard time keeping a traditional one on.
“He would put on a mask and then it would irritate his face and he would pull it down and pull it off,” said Johnston.
She explained that masks can often be scratchy from the friction and the way seams lay on the face could cause discomfort. Regular masks often fall down and the straps can be a challenge. The design of this new mask fixes those problems by using a silk material, reducing seams, and having straps that clasp in the back to stay in place.
The Sensory Friendly Mask features five S’s:
- Soft: 100% Mulberry silk liner is incredibly soft and hypoallergenic while its adjustable jersey knit straps wrap comfortably around the head and clasp as opposed to around the ears.
- Secure: Adjustable nose bridge ensures the perfect fit and decreases glasses fogging.
- Safe: Three layers of protection including a highly breathable cotton exterior and a 100% antimicrobial middle layer.
- Structured: Minimal design and limited seaming create a comfortable mask that stays away from the mouth.
- Social Story: Visual storytelling guide included with every mask helps children understand mask-wearing necessity.
The Sensory-Friendly Mask retails for $14 (child sizes) and $16 (adults). Anyone can order one at RafiNova.com. A portion of each purchase will be donated to Easterseals Southern California when you use code: ESSC.