Local mom raises awareness for mask exceptions, saying son can’t wear one

Local News

CENTERVILLE, Ohio (WDTN) — While Ohio is under a statewide mask mandate, there are some people who cannot wear masks because of medical conditions or disabilities. A Centerville mom is raising awareness about the challenges she faces and asking for understanding, saying her son cannot wear a mask.

“[Joel is] very lovable. He’s just one of those kids that you just can’t help but want to snuggle. He loves going out,” describes mom Shakiyla Green.

Shakiyla’s 3-year-old son Joel Valentino has autism and sensory processing disorder; she says because of his diagnosis he is unable to wear a mask.

“Putting a mask on him is like torture,” says Shakiyla. “He’ll start freaking out because of the sensory–sometimes they just don’t like stuff touching their face. And so he’ll just start freaking out having what we call a panic attack.”

Under the governor’s mandate, Joel doesn’t have to wear a mask.

“If someone has a medical reason for not wearing a mask, they do not have to wear a mask. And I would also urge all my fellow citizens to not be judgemental,” Governor Mike DeWine stated in a press conference last week.

He went on to say, “This mask order is only for those ten years of age and older.”

While these are some of the exceptions to the governor’s mask mandate, each business is allowed to set its own policy.

“We were planning a trip for Kings Island and we got denied entry because my son could not wear a mask,” states Shakiyla .

Kings Island requires masks for guests older than age 2. Many establishments have their own policies in place. Shakiyla says individual policies have put limitations on where she can take him.

“Whether it’s the store or the hair salon or, you know, even the bank,” lists Shakiyla.

Realizing it’s up to each individual business, she says she will comply with whatever the policy is, but she’s asking people to be mindful and more understanding.

“Please don’t discriminate,” says Shakiyla. “My kid–he can’t help it. It’s legitimate. It’s nothing made up, and it’s really tough.”

Kings Island issued a statement saying: “The health and safety of our guests and associates is Kings Island’s top priority. Because the pandemic is considered a direct threat to the health and safety of the public, Kings Island requires face coverings for everyone who visits based on CDC and public health agency guidelines.”

Shakiyla says Kings Island is providing a refund for their tickets.

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