When: Thursday, Jan 31 | 2:50 pm - 3:30 pm

Location: TBD

Days: Thursday. Event Types: Session. Sectors: Public Libraries. Subjects: Accessibility, Advocacy/Outreach, and Inclusion.


Description:

Learning objectives
1. Learn the precedents for considering creating a sensory storytime
2. The research behind inclusive programming for autism and related issues
3. What makes it sensory? – To make other practitioners comfortable with beginning a sensory storytime.
Conference Priorities Covered & How
Health – creative problem solving – a need for some inclusive programming identified and approached with research and discovery by doing. Providing a bridge to other library programming.
OPLA – Mental health (and homelessness) – adults with autism face difficulty with employment, may experience mental health issues due to isolation which then comes across as social awkwardness due to the lack of exposure to social situations autism and related disorders
Proposal
Quite often children with autism become socially isolated early on due to a parent’s fear of their child not being able to sit and listen in the manner traditional to storytime. Children with autism, sensory processing disorder or other developmental issues may not be used to being around other children or in a structured setting due to this fear of behaviour in social settings. Afraid of themselves or their children being judged or the stress of being in a new environment can keep parents and caregivers from accessing the library in general and structured programs in particular.
My thought was to create a storytime that offered a safe space which gives children the opportunity to take part in a group setting with no expectations as to their behaviour (as in compliance to accepted norms) and less stress for the parents and caregivers. I did lots of research to see why and how to do this and launched a pilot project at London Public Library in June 2017. It has been a year now and the program is evolving. I would like to present a talk that explores some of the research behind this as well as my efforts to reach out to other libraries who are experimenting with sensory storytimes.
Finally, I would like to have some hands on sensory activities there which attendees can take experience as a demonstration of the sensory aspect of the program.