According to the American Institute of Research the number of public school students diagnosed with autism has increased over 500% in the last ten years and the cost of educating an ASD student is at least $8,000 more than a non ASD student. The national average for children with ASD is 1 in 150 children. In the South Park School District during the last five years the prevalence of ASD children in the incoming kindergarten class averages 1 in 43.
The South Park Township Public Library will be collaborating with the South Park School District as well as ASD specialists from state appointed agencies in Allegheny County to develop specialized multi-sensory literacy engagement kits.
These kits will be developed around themes that respond to a framework that is based upon the five Big Ideas of literacy “Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Comprehension, Fluency and Vocabulary” as well as the five senses of taste, sight, hearing, smell and touch.
The kits will be broad enough to include the diversity of literacy learning as well as flexible enough to be customized to the personal interest of the learner. The team will engage educators, artists, and musicians in the development of uniquely produced material. ASD students will have opportunities to create materials for the kits. As these kits will be developed through extensive interaction with students, they will in their completed form, provide a new mechanism for understanding literacy development.