Our very own Renee Grassi is serving as a board member on the Illinois State Library's new Targeting Autism project! If you are passionate about making a difference in the lives of people on the Autism spectrum, be sure to follow the Targeting Autism blog and consider applying to be a participant in two stakeholder forums where experts and advocates will help develop strategies to support library patrons and family members impacted by ASD. The forums will be held in Springfield, IL in March and September, 2015.
Congratulations to our member libraries who tried something new this quarter!
- Geneva Public Library offered their first successful Sensory Storytime.
- Arlington Heights Memorial Library hosted a wonderfully inclusive yoga story time.
- Oak Lawn Public Library is providing weekly activities for two transitional groups. The adults in these groups are currently creating pencil holders for the Library's service desks.
Our first guest speaker was Hayley Anderson, Manager of Family Services and Partnerships at the National Lekotek Center in Chicago, a play-based therapy center with affiliate sites in eight states. Hayley opened by explaining that "there is no wrong way to play." Learn how all play benefits children's physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development by requesting a copy of Lekotek's White Paper.
You may want to share with your patrons that Lekotek offers a $300 family membership which includes monthly therapeutic play sessions; five borrowed toys from the lending library; social play groups for kids and siblings; parent support groups; and special events. If you are hosting a special program at your library and would like Hayley to promote it to Lekotek families, please email her a program flyer.
Professional Memberships for libraries and other organizations costs $500 and includes five borrowed toys each month; free webinars and trainings for library staff; monthly raffles for free toys; and coupons for patrons to try a Lekotek play group and parent workshop. Even without a professional membership, libraries can hire Lekotek staff to provide inclusive Sensory Storytimes for their patrons. The cost is $250 for a one-hour program (all supplies included), plus mileage.
If you are thinking about adding toys to your collection, Lekotek's AblePlay website features 8,000 toys rated by Lekotek staff according to their developmental benefits, and the annual Toys"R"Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids recommends 200 toys (also evaluated and recommended by Lektotek).
Hot off the press! Lekotek's upcoming publication is a Literacy Guide sponsored by Weplay and edited by Hayley and Renee Grassi. It will be available for purchase at ALA Midwinter in January 2015.
Jo Kaeding, a children’s librarian and PhD student interested in library programs for children with special needs, visited us all the way from Australia! As the recipient of three awards, Jo received funding to come to the United States to research her PhD topic, “Opening public libraries for children with special needs and their families.” Jo visited several libraries in the Chicago-area, including Gail Borden, Skokie, Arlington Heights, Glen Ellyn, Deerfield, and Glenview. At our SNAILS meeting, Jo talked about her research and her travels and described a typical library in Australia. Be sure to check out her literacy based early childhood program for children with special needs called Library Lions and The Little Big Book Club in Australia that mirrors ECRR’s message about the five early literacy practices of talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing. You can read more about Jo on her blog. Thank you for visiting us, Jo!
Joleen is currently focusing on networking with parents. Recently, she was able to share the magic of e-books for kids with disabilities with a family at a resource fair. Joleen encourages you to "find a way to represent your Library and get the word out about what you offer." Joleen also shared Batavia's social story, special needs bibliography, and examples of sensory and fine motor bags that she added to the early literacy kit collection. She finished off her presentation by talking about the value of getting parents involved. Last year, a mother of a teen with disabilities initiated a Teen Game Night that is now coordinated by the Library's teen librarian, Christine Edison.
Lekotek Facilitating Play Workshop
After our meeting, approximately 30 members stayed for a Facilitating Play for Children of All Abilities workshop presented by Hayley and Megan Murphy. If you weren't able to attend, you can always register for Lekotek's next workshop or bring the training to your Library or networking group!