MISSOURI (March 26, 2021) – Easterseals Midwest, a leading provider of disabilities services, has teamed with the socially conscious lifestyle brand Rafi Nova and the Southern California Easterseals affiliate to develop a sensory-friendly face mask to benefit children and adults with autism and other disabilities or anyone who finds wearing a conventional mask uncomfortable.
For individuals with autism and other sensory processing challenges or disabilities, mask wearing can be difficult. A face covering introduces multiple new stimuli, including the fabric's sensation, the pressure of tight elastic bands and the heat and moisture from breath inside the mask.
According to the CDC, one in 54 children in the United States has autism. Per the Autism Society, autism is the fastest growing developmental disorder in the U.S., with more than 3.5 million individuals on the spectrum.
The New England mask maker partnered with Easterseals Midwest and Southern California to design a mask with reduced stimuli to address the concerns of people with sensory sensitivities, consulting more than a dozen of Easterseals’ therapists and other licensed and certified staff, and working with people who receive services from Easterseals Southern California, as well as their families and other community members. Over a three-month period, multiple prototypes were tested and revised to achieve a maximally beneficial mask—soft, structured, safe, secure—that provides both comfort and function.
“We’ve seen a lot of the individuals we support struggle with adjusting to wearing a mask,” Jeanne Marshall, Chief Program Officer and VP of Services at Easterseals Midwest said. “For a number of reasons, masks are often uncomfortable or over stimulating for people with sensory sensitivities. These masks are a much better option not only for the people we support, but for anyone who may find more traditional masks uncomfortable.”
The Sensory-Friendly Mask is made of 100% Mulberry silk lining, which reduces friction, and adjustable jersey knit straps that clasp behind the head, instead of behind the ears. With minimal design, limited seaming, and a special construction to lift the fabric from the mouth, the mask provides a comfortable fit, but is also safe with an adjustable nose bridge and antibacterial layer. Each mask also comes with a social story, a visual story designed by Easterseals therapists to help make the importance of mask-wearing more understandable for children. The Sensory-Friendly Mask retails for $14 (child size) and $16 (adults). Masks are now available at easterseals.com/midwest.
Using the code “ESMW” at checkout will provide 25% of proceeds to Easterseals Midwest, helping provide life-changing services to people with disabilities throughout Missouri, Kansas, and parts of Illinois.
"Masks must be comfortable and functional for everyone. It's that simple," Rafi Nova CEO Marissa Goldstein said. “The Sensory-Friendly Mask represents the next generation of the company's inclusive face coverings designed to protect and reconnect communities.”
Visit easterseals.com/midwest to purchase your sensory-friendly mask, using promo code ESMW at checkout.
About Easterseals Midwest
Easterseals Midwest is a nonprofit organization changing the way the world defines and views disability by making profound, positive differences in people’s lives every day. The organization employs 1,800 employees delivering services to more than 5,000 individuals statewide through four divisions: Autism Services, Community Living Services, Early Childhood Services, and Employment Services. Learn more at easterseals.com/midwest.
About Rafi Nova
Rafi Nova is a socially conscious lifestyle brand on a mission to outfit families with products and accessories designed for everyday adventures while empowering them to connect, have fun and do more good in the world. Founded as a fair-trade fashion brand to equip adventurous families with sustainably made travel bags, the company shifted focus to face masks to solve the urgent needs of families and communities. Veterans of sustainable product manufacturing, Co-founders Marissa and Adam Goldstein named the company after their two sets of twins and travel partners: Raya, Efi, Noa and Eyva.