We are going to hold a sensory storytime series, develop a collection of resources for caregivers and curriculum support and have training for the staff on effective ways of welcoming Special Needs children and young adults into the library. The Sensory Storytimes will be designed to engage children ages 3-8 (and their families!) through movement, music, preschool level stories and play. The program will be specifically geared towards children who are on the Autism Spectrum or have sensory integration challenges.
These storytimes will be presented by a local Speech Language Therapist and will be one hour long on Saturday mornings. We would like to offer two sessions each Saturday in order to accommodate the small class size most conducive to learning for these children and most manageable for the Speech Language Therapist. Each class will consist of a 30 minute interactive storytime and the other 30 minutes will be play and socialization. To mentally prepare the children for coming to a new place we will be creating something called a ‘social story’. This is a printed book with photographs and one sentence per page about different areas the children will see when they come to the library.
The unexpected can be a paralyzing fear for some children with special needs. The social story will alleviate that. We will develop a storytime collection of music cds and update our book collection to include books especially for this population of children. Because practicing motor skills is so important, we will buy products for the play portion of the storytime. We will also create a new special needs collection complete with DVD parenting materials and books about children with disabilities written for children. There are some fabulous resources for teaching children with developmental disabilities and we would like to buy them, package them, and make them available for checkout.
Finally, we will provide in-service training for the clerical and reference staff by Meg Kolaya and Dan Weiss of Library Connections on how to effectively interact with special needs children and ways to expand our services to include young adults. We are confident this will be a great resource for a segment of the community that is not currently served directly by the library. The Sensory Storytime will give children a new pathway to learn and a place to socialize outside of school. Our new materials will offer caregivers resources to help them deal with issues and support curriculum. The in-service training will give our staff the necessary background and tools to welcome Special Needs children. We believe our population of special needs children will flourish in the library and that our services will expand even after the grant money is spent.