On Sunday, June 9, Maple Grove had its first Sensitive Family Time™ event. The event was designed to bring families who are living with a child on the autism spectrum into the library “after hours.” In this case it was a Sunday morning before opening from 10:00 to 12:00 pm, with a room reserved until 1 if the families wanted to stay after the doors opened to the general public. CEA worked with Melissa Marts at the Maple Grove Library to create this safe space for families to explore the library and discover literacy.
Nineteen people attended. There was a therapy bunny and a therapy dog from North Star Therapy Animals and their volunteer handlers who enjoyed meeting the children and being read to. Kids loved seeing the inner workings of the library on a tour of the library, and each child picked out a book from the library’s summer reading program to take home. We also had printed literature and resources available for parents, and, of course, signed people up for library cards.
Melissa proposed this program because she felt there was a need for an inviting space for families living with autism. Libraries are considered quiet spaces, but often times they aren’t. One family drove from a different county, so she could bring her son to this event. It was his first time at a library. All the parents expressed that this was a rare event to be able to bring their child to a library. One parent said that her daughter is overwhelmed by all the patrons during regular hours. Other parents said there was usually anxiety related to coming to the library, worrying that their child might disrupt patrons. All the parents were thankful they had an opportunity to bring their child to the library free from anxiety.
Overall, this was pretty easy to organize, and it did not disrupt the Maple Grove’s Sunday morning workflow. All parents expressed interest in attending again, as well as participating in a Sensitive Storytime. We will be sure to share other events like these at area libraries. If you are interested in hosting a Sensitive Storytime™ event at your library, contact us!