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Opinion

Hanson: West Chicago librarian to develop Enhanced Sensory Youth Programming

Community Voice

Amanda Hanson
Amanda Hanson

WEST CHICAGO – The Youth Services department at the West Chicago Public Library District has recognized a gap in the services we offer in regard to children with sensory issues and other special needs.  In an attempt to bridge this gap, the WCPLD has developed a new relationship with West Chicago Elementary School District 33 and its special education services under the student services department.

WCPLD has begun sending a youth services librarian to the primary instructional classrooms at Indian Knoll Elementary School. These visits by a librarian to the school are intended to complement the classroom instruction already in place by providing an abbreviated Enhanced Sensory Program/Story Time experience. The youth services library staff hopes to bring this new Enhanced Sensory Youth Programming initiative to the WCPLD youth services’ program offerings at the library in the near future.

An Enhanced Sensory Program/Story Time at WCPLD would be a small-group youth program designed for children with autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing issues, and other special needs – and for their families and caregivers. Stories and activities will engage the senses through books, music, movement and gross and fine motor skill enrichment.

Crafts will be offered to accommodate different skill levels, and sensory play stations and toys will be available to provide a tactile learning experience.

The program presentation would follow the same routine every session to provide a sense of continuity and trust in what to expect from session to session. However, subject themes would vary with each program.  Every effort would be made to accommodate the needs of those attending to the best of the library’s abilities.

The current service expansion into the primary instructional classrooms at Indian Knoll helps WCPLD youth services meet two of three of its long-range service goals. The first goal is to provide outreach services at different venues in the community. The second goal is to continue to collaborate and explore opportunities to provide outreach to West Chicago Elementary School District 33. Additionally, the Enhanced Sensory Program/Story Time offering meets youth services’ third long-range goal of identifying new initiatives and programs that can be held at the library for engaging the community as a whole.

Finally, the library hopes to promote a portable Enhanced Sensory Program/Story Time available to local organizations that provide services to families with special needs. These programs can be scheduled with youth services, as needed, at a location designated by the patron.

WCPLD youth services staff is grateful to the many local libraries and educators who work with children with special needs and who have shared their collective experiences and given advice to help shape and develop this exciting new program for the West Chicago Public Library District. If you have any questions about or suggestions for the staff involved in the ongoing development of the Enhanced Sensory Program at WCPLD, please contact the youth services department at the library.

Amanda Hanson is youth services librarian with the West Chicago Public Library District.

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