Many children with Autism Spectrum Disorders are visiting our libraries. Many more families of kids with ASD want to feel welcome in our libraries. Current statistics show that one in every 110 children is diagnosed with autism, and some studies suggest that the prevalence rate of autism is increasing 10-17 percent annually — statistics which clearly show that families needing this type of storytime are in our communities. How we can best work with these kids and their families was the focus of a session today called Sensory Storytime: Preschool Programming that Makes Sense for Kids with Autism.
A sensory storytime is different in many ways than a traditional storytime for 3 to 5 year olds. While it does incorporate some of the books, songs, and movement activities typically found in a storytime, it can also incorporate sensory activities such as balance beam or bean bag activities. The presenters shared many hints such as how to create a schedule the kids could see to know what was going to happen next, the types of books that work well with this group of kids, the importance of eliminating extra chairs, posters and distractions from the room, the value of a time to play (for the kids) and network (for the parents) after the storytime, and that it was best if no food was offered and perfume/hairspray and other scents were avoided. It also seems to work well if offered on a Saturday morning with no age limit defined.
The blurb for Sensory Storytime: Preschool Programming that Makes Sense for Kids with Autism stated “Expect to be inspired, educated, and empowered to develop or modify your own storytime programs to serve the kids with autism in your community.” This comment was absolutely on target… I came away feeling that not only should our library be offering a Sensory Storytime, but that we were quite capable of doing it and doing it well. Thank you presenters Ellen Fader, Barbara Klipper, Allison LeBouef, and Tricia Bohanon Twarogowski.
These presenters will be sharing their information soon on ALA Connect; I will make sure to post when that happens.