Presentation on theme: "Special needs sensory storytime"— Presentation transcript:
1Special needs sensory storytime By Carrie Rogers-Whitehead
2Why do this type of storytime? Story of Liam and the family…other kids did not understand why Liam and his brothers acted out and THEY couldn’t.Rates of autism in Utah has doubled in the last 6 years, one doctor told me that Utah has the fourth highest rate of autism in the nation. There is a definite need.Liam, his brother andmother
3“I have never had the ability to take my 4 year old to story time because I can't bring her older brother even to the library let alone story time. She loved story time today and it was so nice to be able to see her enjoying the program so much and not have to worry about my son and having to grab her and leave because of his behavior. I have searched and searched and have not found any other programs for the more severely affected kids out there whatsoever.”---Monica Carpenter, parent of an autistic boyNot about exclusion but inclusion. They need their own space. Parents have expressed concern about bringing those kids to the libraries because they act up. Libraries are quiet places, and autistic children are often NOT quiet.
4Utah number one in autism cases We’re number oneThe most recent statistics have found that Utah has the NUMBER ONE highest rate of autism in children in the country.Utah number one in autism cases
5What is autism spectrum disorder? Carly’s voice video
6It is sometimes said that if you know ONE person with autism, you know ONE person with autism. Every autistic child is different and you cannot cater to all of their needs. They call it the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) because every child is different on the spectrum. You just have to do the best you can and realize you cannot please everyone, but the patrons will just be happy you tried.
13Songs Stories Visuals Format Audience SimilaritiesSongsStoriesVisualsFormatAudienceActually, this storytime is very similar than your regular one. With a sensory storytime you both have songs, stories, visuals and it is a similar format.
14But there are differences… Board MakerAutistic children are very visual and often use picture symbols to designate activities and abstract concepts.This is the flannel of Tricia Twargowski who has been doing an autistic storytime since 2008 and been a great help for me. I have one of my own but just not a picture. I put the schedule of what we are doing on the board and when we complete an activity I put it in a folder that says “done.” Many autistic children use schedules in their daily lives to indicate what they should be doing from the morning to the evening. Not all autistic children use these and I get a different response from some kids than others. Board Maker is a program you have to buy, I got my images from a special ed teacher who printed them off for me and I laminated them and put velcro on the back. (Bring examples and show them the ears, eyes, and mouth that helps them be quiet)
15Different types of books Simple, repetitive textAs literal as possibleToddler books are greatAlways have a visual to go with your book or some kind of physical activityTry books that you sing instead of readUse BIG booksFavorite authors: Pat Hutchins, Emma Dodd These authors are great for their sing/song books: Raffi, Jane Cabrera, Iza TrapaniAlso try wordless picture books like Tuesday by David Wiesner. These can be great to promote higher order thinking and lets the parents be more involved.
16Autistic Children are visual learners Double visualsLet the children help tell the story.It is hard for autistic children to just focus on you reading a book. Double visuals are great for this, so they can focus on more than one thing. Storytime boxes have been a great help for me with this, I have also ordered a number of flannels from etsy.com and had volunteers help me make some.
17Visual Learning: Space Visually demarcate “your” space vs. “their” spaceUnderstand that many children cannot sit and will move. Do not restrict thisProprioception: sensing the orientation and motion of ones limb’s and body through spaceAutistic children will understand “your” space vs. “their” space if there are visual clues. Suggestions: masking tape, seat cushions, be on a stage. This does not always work but can help. Autistic children often have proprioception issues and cannot sit still for long periods of time. They need to move and explore their surroundings. A suggestion would be to have the parents come early so they can explore the space before storytime starts. Many autistic children get scared of new spaces and very large or cramped rooms.Are many of these children sitting?
18Proprioception contd.Weighted blankets and fidget toys are a great way to calm sensory seeking behavior.
19Visual Learning: No Distractions Hide program supplies in a basket next to youPut away any wires for CD players or other electronic equipmentHide craft supplies with tableclothPut away any other items, display cases, flags, decorations, pull blinds awayDigital projectors etc. not recommendedAutistic children love to explore and will play with anything they can get their hands on. They will climb on chairs, play with blinds or anything available. First time I had a kid grab the flagpole off the staff and walk away with it. While autistic children are visual and having big pictures projected on the screen can be great, special ed teachers have recommended not to do it because they will be distracted by the device and wires.
20No Distractions (contd) Dim the lights (optional)Keep door closed to prevent escape artistsIf possible put a volunteer near the back of the room near the door to control outbursts etc.Provide earplugs to sound-sensitive childrenSome autistic children work better in dim lighting, for others it does not bother them. Some have suggested to me to keep the music quieter and less jarring. I have not found that loud music upsets my autistic kids but everyone is different. I always provide ear plugs for sound-sensitive children.
21No Distractions (contd) Have parents sit with their children. Do not provide chairs unless necessary.Parents know how to discipline their children best. Each child is disciplined differently at home and your type of discipline will most likely be ineffective. What works with a non-special needs child, will probably not work with these children and may make it worse. Sitting with parents also calms and controls the child.
22Managing Behavior Follow the 8 to 2 rule Let parents be the ones who discipline, it is not your roleShow children visually what you want them to doPraise good behaviorHave other children model proper behavior, the other children will see it and follow8 positive attentions/corrections to 2 negative onesWhen working with a “sensory seeking” ASD they often seek attention any way they can, pulling off flannels, making noise. If attention is what they seek, do not give it to them…no eye contact, no words, no reaction and no emotion.Show picture symbol cards which visually illustrate what you want them to doPeer pressure is important…one sensory seeking child was “wild” at first but now he sometimes corrects the other children when they get up.
23Songs Autistic children love songs! Include more songs than your regular storytimeMake songs tactile through scarves, ribbons, beanbags, parachutes, shakers or anything else you can think ofI include lots of songs in this storytime. Some of my favorite CDs are: Georgina Stewart, Super Simple Songs (1, 2 & 3) , Laurie Berkner, Jim Gill, Baby Toddler CDs like Baloney, Margie La Bella, Raffi, Johnette Downing, and Eric Litwin.Making “snow” with a parachute during a song.
24Rest AreaInclude a space in your storytime room/auditorium for the children to take a breakPut related books and stuffed animals in this areaA rest area can be great for upset children, do not call it “Time out”Having a rest area lets thechildren and parents participatewithout having to leave the roomI have a rest area in the corner of my auditorium where I put a rug (to visually demarcate the space), stuffed animals and non-fiction books related to the theme. The rest area has been a great addition. Some of the lower-functioning children prefer to just sit there and play and completely ignore me. But since they are happy there I do not make an issue of it. As mentioned before, it is difficult to have these kids sit for any length of time.
25CraftsAdapt your regular storytime crafts to ones that are more tactile and less complicatedI love doing crafts for my regular preschool storytime. Special needs kids love crafts too. However, you will need to adapt your regular crafts. Stay away from scissors or crafts that require fine motor skills. Focus on tactile crafts: playing with colored whipped cream (for colors storytime), finger painting etc. Some suggestions from special ed teachers are to let them play with sand or rice. For my farms storytime I had them put stickers on a picture which practiced their motor skills…a special ed teacher recommended for that storytime to let them touch lambs wool but I couldn’t get my hands on some. Coloring pages can be great for them, just be careful with glue because they like to put things in their mouth.
26Playtime/ Social HourAlways leave time afterwards for the kids to run around and play. Parents also want a time to socialize and meet with other parents that have autistic children.My autistic children LOVE the bubbles and play time. I always play music afterwards too.After the storytime leave time for socializing. I put out my crafts here, leave flannels or other toys for them to play with and sometimes we do chalk on the porch. I always have music playing and some of the kids like to dance to it. For some of them, their favorite part are the bubbles. I always use Gymboree bubbles which are nontoxic (they can eat them) and last forever. Some of the kids like to blow the bubbles but others just play around with them. You can also get a bubble blower and just leave it on afterwards. This is a great time for parents to socialize. I’ve had a number of preschool and special ed teachers come out and talk with the parents afterwards.
27Marketing and Outreach Marketing has been the most time-consuming part of this program. If you build it, they will not come. If you told them you built it, they will. I started Marketing 2 months in advance of my first program. I researched it for a month before I began to market. Note: most of the marketing work is done for you, you won’t need to do as much as I did. 2. Along with marketing go out to events. I’ve done outreach at Layton, Orem, spread info at an autistic conference, and in September attended an autism festival with Linda Dial and Cynthia Hinckley last week at Wheeler Farm.
28More Tips: Research Outreach Be adaptable Treat autistic children differently than the children in your regular groupRepetitionAn group is a mustConsistency1. All autistic children are different and you have to be adaptable to find what works. (i.e. example of dollar store rugs) 2. Some rules with autistic kids: do not touch them, learn their names, bend down to talk to them do not hover over them it sometimes scares them 3. Feel free to repeat themes, songs, and stories. Autistic kids love repetition. Always have the same opening and closing song in your storytime. 4. Establish an group from day one. You can share tips, events, and remind them of your upcoming storytime. 5. Do not change location, time or other things because change often upsets these children. When I was on maternity leave I had to arrange for a substitute, but I had her come for a few months beforehand so the children knew who she was.
29Libraries are spaces for EVERYONE Myself with Christa, Liam’s mom about year after starting the Sensory Storytime.
30Resources to check outTricia’s blog on her autistic storytime on ALSC:1001 Great Ideas for Teaching and Raising Children with Autism for Asperger’s by Ellen NotbohmUtah Parent Center:Autism Speaks:Boardmaker Share: Find great picture symbols for your storytime for free.Your local Special Ed teachers. Find some here:
31If you have any questions or are interested in starting your own storytime for autistic children. Please contact Carrie Rogers-Whitehead at or