Children with autism and sensory processing disorder often feel uncomfortable at traditional storytimes, and their families, afraid that their child’s behavior might be misunderstood or disruptive, often avoid the library altogether. The Jane Schall Sensory Storytime Collection is designed to reach out to this underserved population, and make the library an inclusive place where all children in our community feel welcome.
According to the most recent data from the CDC, 1 in 68 children have Autism Spectrum Disorder. Over the past few years, libraries have begun to recognize that this population has been underserved. As the concept of sensory storytime continues to gain traction within the library community, more and more libraries have begun to successfully implement their own special storytime sessions. The overwhelmingly positive responses from parents and caregivers of children with Autism and sensory issues indicate that these programs fulfill a need that has not traditionally been addressed in public libraries.
In keeping with our mission to enrich our community’s educational, informational and recreational needs, the Menomonee Falls Public Library will begin offering a storytime starting in the Fall of 2016 geared especially toward children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or Sensory Processing Disorder and their families. Our goals for Sensory Storytime are to provide children with activities that promote early literacy and social skills in a structured, interactive, and inclusive program. Sensory Storytime will incorporate books, songs, and movement with sensory activities that promote participation and learning. This type of storytime will not only make all families feel welcome in the library, it will also give parents a place to meet and socialize.
The Jane Schall Sensory Storytime Collection is made possible by a $4800 grant from the Menomonee Falls Library Friends, and a $500 grant from the Community League of Menomonee Falls. This money will help us purchase special tools, such as a tactile balance beam, TheraBands, weighted bean bags and blankets, and special seating for children who find it difficult to sit still.