Two years ago, CEA received a grant from the MN Department of Education. The goal of that grant was to bring literacy tools to parents living with autism. So often, children with autism struggle with literacy, and we were inspired by the research we found that linked Shared Reading, a specific way parents can read to their child, to big gains in language development.
For us, sharing these literacy tools and the other ways that books can address areas in which families with autism struggle was a passion and a big part of our mission. So we developed a robust training for parents and educators that would teach them how to use literacy as a tool for engagement and also how to fully engage children in literacy.
Out of this passion came the idea to bring Sensitive Storytimes™ to Minnesota libraries. We partnered with Hennepin County librarians who helped us develop a training for youth librarians called, Designing a Sensitive Storytime™. Since that initial training, we have presented and consulted with many metro area libraries, created resource boards on Pinterest and shared our expertise in hopes that families living with autism will be fully engaged in their local libraries.
The response has been wonderful! Since this story appeared in the Star Tribune on November 1, we have seen a growth in interest from other library systems, and we hope that soon all libraries will host a Sensitive Storytime™ for their community.
It is through programs like these that we enrich lives, engage families and open up possibilities.