Making your programs more inclusive of autistic families (and families with other sensory needs or disabilities) doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money. There are small, simple changes that you can make in an hour or less today that will help autistic families feel welcome and supported at your library programs (not just storytime). Here are four ways to get started.
October is AAC Awareness Month! AAC stands for “augmentative and alternative communication,” and it’s often used to refer to a tool that can help someone communicate without speech, like a picture board or a tablet with a communication application. It can be as simple as a white board, or as high tech as a computer that can detect the user’s eye movements and translate them to speech. Someone who is non-speaking, or has difficulty speaking, can use their AAC to communicate with others. Let’s learn a little bit about AAC devices and how you can support AAC-users in the library.
Try this when you’ve got a spare ten minutes: open up your library’s catalog and search for “autism.” Imagine that you are autistic (if you aren’t), and you’re looking for books about people like you. What kind of books do you see? How easy is it for you to find positive autistic representation in your library?
April is Autism Acceptance Month! Over the last decade, libraries have done a lot of work to better support autistic families. Many libraries have started sensory storytimes and programs. Some allow autistic families to visit the library before official open hours to provide a less overstimulating experience. Other libraries have converted extra space into entire sensory rooms. However, a lot of misinformation about autism continues to circulate, and it affects how libraries serve their communities. Let’s bust some autism myths together.
In summer 2019, the Children and Technology committee wrote about bridging the digital divide with circulating tech. Current events have forced us to evaluate our resources, services, and access. In times of change and uncertainty, libraries connect families with resources and experiences they may not otherwise have. In addition to virtual programs, libraries must connect with families without the time or ability to connect online. One way to do this is providing prepackaged, circulating materials like backpacks and kits. Serving Underserved Populations 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. So far, we’ve focused on: Children with autism and sensory processing disorders Families experiencing financial insecurity and homelessness Spanish speaking populations, and Access to technology Today, we’d like to share how backpacks and kits…
It’s Autism Awareness Month, or Autism Acceptance Month if you’re one of us. According to the Dewey Decimal System, I have a disease, but I don’t think of it that way. Sure, I have some real diseases, like Hashimoto’s. My thyroid attacking itself is a disease. But I don’t think of the way my mind works as a disease.
To Siri with Love: A Mother, Her Autistic Son, and the Kindness of Machines by Judith Newman was released on August 22nd. An online controversy surrounding the book’s representation of autism has “blown up” during the past week, and there are now calls in the autistic community to #BoycottToSiri.
Author Julia Finley Mosca and illustrator Daniel Rieley have broken a barrier with The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin. One of the first autistic persons to speak publicly about her condition, Dr. Grandin’s insight into the minds of cows, and her perseverance, led her into the halls of corporate America and changed the ethical standards for processing meat. Dr. Grandin has received numerous honors and written many books.