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Salt Lake Tribune Article 5/27/2011
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Carrie's Tips and Resources
All autistic children are different and you have to be adaptable to find what works. Some children might not like loud noises and others don't mind. There is no one correct way.
Some basic rules with those on the spectrum
1-Do not touch them
2-Learn their names
3-Bend down to talk to them, do not hover over them, it sometimes scares them.
4-Feel free to repeat themes, songs and stories. Autistic kids love repetition. Always have the same opening and closing song in your storytime.
Marketing is everything! Establish an e-mail/Facebook group from day one. You can share tips, events and remind them of your upcoming storytime. Go to outreach events, join autistic listservs and put the event on online calendars. (See Resources below for organizations that can help promote your program.)
Be consistent! Children on the spectrum thrive on consistency. Do not change locations, times or presenters without careful consideration and advance notice. A new face for storytime can upset some of these children. If you will have someone new who presents, have them come for a few times before they take over.
Take away as many distractions as you can in your storytime room. Clear the place of clutter and cover up any crafts beforehand. Put your supplies in a box where the children cannot see it.
Playtime: Leave time afterwards for parents to socialize and the children to play. For many this is their favorite part. Turn on some music, blow bubbles and get to know those who are coming to your storytime.
Crafts: Keep crafts simple and focused on the senses. Some children on the spectrum like to put things in their mouth so be careful with glue and scissors.
Have a rest area in some part of the room where the children can take a break, and if there are behavioral issues, parents can take them to the rest area without having to leave the storytime. (do not call this a time-out- it is a rest area with stuffed animals and books relating to your topic.)
You cannot apply the same behavioral rules as you do with your regular storytime. These children will run around and make noise and it is futile for you to try to control everything. Let them be themselves and just relax and have fun.
Favorite authors for this type of storytime: Pat Hutchings and Emma Dodd. These authors are great for their sing/song books: Raffi, Jane Cabrera, Iza Trapani for their music.
Try wordless picture books like Tuesday by David Weisner. Or BIG books where they can see the pages better.
Blog on autistic storytimes on ALSC: http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/2008/08/storytime-for-autistic-children/
1001 Great Ideas for Teaching and Raising Children with Autism or Asperger's by Ellen Notbohm
Utah Parent Center: http://www.utahparentcenter.org/
Autism Speaks: http://www.autismspeaks.org/
Boardmaker Share: Find great pictrue symbols for your storytime for free.
Your local Special Ed teachers. Find some here: http://www.schools.utah.gov/sars/
Autism Coucil of Utah http://autismcouncilofutah.org/
Big MAKS (mothers of autistic kids) http://utahmaks.blogspot.com/