The Library Service to Underserved Children and Their Caregivers committee is devoting the 2020-2021 calendar year to creating a vibrant, dynamic toolkit that provides ALSC members with up-to-date resources for working with marginalized populations. Each toolkit page will provide professional and leisure reading recommendations, support for programming, and materials for families. As dynamic documents, these pages will continue to grow and develop as we find new resources, share our experiences, and continue to learn.
This month, our focus is serving children who have autism and other sensory processing disorders. As our understanding of these children and their needs increases, libraries are recognizing an important role in supporting these families in their community. This may involve specialized resources, adapted programming, and community partnerships to support children and their caregivers. We are hoping to use this opportunity to bring awareness to the unique considerations of library service to this population, provide support to libraries serving their patrons, and encourage ongoing dialogue about best practices and resources so that we can continue to learn from each other.
What you will find in this toolkit:
- Picture books to read to children and parents that include children with autism and other sensory processing disorders in an authentic way.
- A number of articles that provide solid programming ideas that attend to the unique needs of children with sensory processing disorders. ASD children are very visual and need routine, and it is imperative to provide programming that focuses on these needs.
- Materials you can purchase for your library’s children’s room that will help create an inclusive environment for children with autism.
If your library is just beginning its journey of serving children with autism and sensory processing disorders, a great resource to get started is the Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected website. Here you can find resources to support your library, programming ideas and suggestions, and a variety of books, articles, and videos to further expand your knowledge. Researching best practices and other information is an excellent baseline for determining what your library is capable of and committed to providing.
Take a moment to visit the LSUCTC Toolkit for all our recommended resources!
We would love your help! Please email us with your recommendations, favorite resources, and inspiring community outreach endeavors: firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to add your recommendations to our Toolkit sheet. If you are willing to share your successful programming ideas and experiences, we would love to highlight those as well.
Jaime Eastman is the co-chair of the Library Service to Underserved Children and Their Caregivers committee. She is a senior public services librarian at the Harrington Library in Plano, Texas, and also serves as the building’s Family Place Coordinator. She recently read and enjoyed The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boyd with Autism by Naoki Higashida and highly recommends it to anyone wanting to learn more about autism.
Joe Prince is the co-chair of the Library Service to Underserved Children and Their Caregivers committee. He is the Curriculum & Outreach Educator at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. His favorite book featuring an autistic-adjacent protagonist is Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork.