Friday, April 8, 2011

April is National Autism Awareness Month

Did you know that April is National Autism Awareness Month? It was started in the 1970s to bring awareness to Autism.

The Autism Society defines autism as a "complex neurodevelopmental disability" that usual appears in a child's first 2 years. It affects their ability to interact and communicate with others. Autism is a "spectrum disorder" which means that it affects people differently and to different levels. Currently 1 in 110 Americans are being diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.

You might not be aware that the Des Plaines Library has several resources for parents and caregivers needing information or support. We have a large collection of books for parents needing information or help dealing with particular issues relating to autism. The books are located within our Parenting Collection on the 2nd floor. Here are some selected titles from the collection: Visual Supports for People with Autism, The Official Autism 101 Manual, and Autism Heroes: Portraits of Families Meeting the Challenge.

Also in the Parenting Collection are adapted books for children on the spectrum. These are traditional books that have modified with picture communication added for children to have been understanding of what's happening in the story. The pages are laminated and in a binder to make it easier for them to hold, and there are textured foam "fluffers" that separate the pages to make it easier for them to turn the pages.

The library also maintain the Autism Resource Center, which is a wiki that the library started. This is a site for parents or caregivers where you can find links for local resources such as dentists, family support, or therapists. You can find the link to the wiki here.

Finally, the library runs a monthly program with Rainbow Animal Assisted Therapy where trained therapy dogs help children work on motor skills, interaction, and communication. The children interact with the wonderful aides and dog handlers, while their parents get a chance to check out the library's collection.

If you are a parent of a child who has autism and want to suggest a book for our collection or an area resource for our wiki, please feel free to email us, call us at 847.376.2839, or stop by and talk to us at the 2nd floor information desk the next time you're in.

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