2-Year-Old Boy with Autism Turned Away from In-Person Therapy Because He Can’t Wear a Mask

A Chicago mother is disheartened after she says her son was turned away for autism therapy just because he’s not able to keep a mask on his face.

Regina Howard‘s son, Willie, is only two years old, so it’s quite understandable that she has trouble getting him to wear a mask, not only because of his status on the autism spectrum but also because of his young age.

Photo: NBC 5 Chicago

Willie, who is nonverbal, has been doing speech therapy via telehealth visits during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Regina says they’re just not working for him. His sessions last from 45 minutes to one hour, but she can only get him to sit for them for a few minutes at a time.

Regina says she’s been longing to get him into in-person therapy in the hope of encouraging him to interact and engage with people more than he’s currently able to. She hoped that in-person therapy would have a greater impact on his speech abilities than the telehealth visits have.

Photo: NBC 5 Chicago

Regina was excited when she finally got an appointment for her son at Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital. However, things went wrong on the day the two showed up for the appointment.

“The receptionist said, ‘Would you like for him a mask?’ I said, ‘Well, unfortunately, he won’t keep the mask on,'” Regina recalls.

Photo: NBC 5 Chicago

She was immediately told the therapist would not be able to see him if he didn’t wear a mask. Regina says she spoke to several other people in the office, including security, all of whom told her the same thing. She and Willie were left with no other choice but to leave the building without attending the therapy session.

Willie still has two other appointments scheduled at Schwab, but Regina is unsure about whether or not to keep them, since she doesn’t know if she will be able to get her son to wear a mask.

Photo: NBC 5 Chicago

“It is not for a weak mom. You have to be strong,” says Regina.

Check out the video below to learn more about this troubling story.

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