Flemington man with autism makes hundreds of masks to donate to area hospitals

The cancellations of routines and isolation orders of the coronavirus pandemic can be particularly difficult for people who have autism and their families.
A Flemington man who has autism has been dealing with the disruption by getting involved in a project to help New Jersey health care workers.
Jack Butler, 25, suddenly found himself out of work when the pandemic struck. Like many who have autism, Butler has a need for the routine and focus that his job in the kitchen at Hopewell Valley Vineyards normally provides.
“He thrives on having structure and things to do. And so being home all day and not having access to his activities, places to go – I wanted to look for an avenue that could give him structure inside the home,” says Butler’s mother Marianne Clancy.
Clancy says that she saw other people making protective masks at home and wondered if it might be a good project for her son. And it definitely was.
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“He sat down at it and zipped right along. He’s been doing a terrific job. He really seems to be enjoying it. It is the type of task that is suited to his skill set and his ability,” she says.
Butler now works four hours a day working at a sewing machine and making the masks. He has made hundreds of them to donate to local hospitals and nursing homes.
“It’s been terrific. I think it’s’ given Jack somewhat of an understanding of what is going on around him. It is so extraordinary, the circumstances we are in,” says Clancy. “It’s hard for me to understand, let alone someone with autism to understand. The why – why is this happening? And what does it mean to us? I think giving him a task to do gives him an awareness that we all have a role to play.”
The masks have been donated to St. Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick and other local facilities.