Sensory Story Time providing hands-on learning
Thursday, Nov 02, 2017 06:00 am
Providing an atypical storytime has become one of the Airdrie Public Library’s newest goals. Sensory Story Time, a program for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a six-week interactive program aiming to provide a new learning experience.
“We have bubbles, sticky tack – things that heighten the sense and give children other types of experiences other than singing and rhyming,” said Lindsey Skeen, children’s and youth service manager at the library.
According to Skeen, one in 68 children are born on the autism spectrum, thus proving the need for inclusive programming in Airdrie.
“With Airdrie having such a huge young-people population, it’s just an assumption that we have a fair number of children within Airdrie who fall on the autism spectrum,” Skeen said.
Parents, aids and siblings are all welcomed to join in on the fun. Skeen said she wanted to make the program as inclusive as possible.
“This is an opportunity to experience a library program with a neurotypical and an autistic child at the same time,” Skeen said. “A lot of the times there aren’t programs that cater to a diverse range of abilities.”
Gillian Hatto, a learning support teacher at A.E. Bowers Elementary School, and her students were invited to participate in the first six-week session of Sensory Story Time.
Hatto and a group of five students would make the 20-minute trek to the library every Monday to enjoy the new take on storytime.
“It was really inclusive for our students, creating a really warm and supportive environment that’s geared toward their level and needs,” she said.
Hatto said her students enjoyed the program and would love to come back next year. She said she hopes to see more parents and schools become involved with programs like this.
“I think it’s really important for the community to see how successful (this) is and how needed it is,” Hatto said. “Just to get these students involved helps the parents and lets them know that they are included and that they matter.”
Skeen agreed and said she hopes the program can break down barriers for parents who might be feeling overwhelmed.
“We can be that bridge for connecting parents who might feel marginalized, or they might feel that there’s a stigma about attending programs at the library,” Skeen said “We want everybody to feel welcome at the library.”
Children ages three to 10 with ASD or other types of developmental differences are welcome to join. The next six-week session starts Nov. 6. Children must be registered in order to attend, but families do not need a library card to register. For more information, visit airdriepubliclibrary.ca