If I tell you a story, will you tell me a story?
I've been nudged to think still more about the contents of my Library Conference post from a few days ago, after getting comments both from the moderator of the "Serving Students Along the Autism Spectrum" conference session, and from the creators of the "Libraries and Autism: We're Connected" training program and materials. An exchange of e-mails has followed, and some of my feedback has been incorporated into the Libraries and Autism web site -- plus Elvis Sightings seems to have become an Autism Blog of Interest, woohoo!
Anyway, this all led me to reflect on my own experience with Joy and the local public library. I'm hoping to hear some autism-related library stories from my readers too.
Joy is not an easy match with the public library. When Rose was little, I could take her to play with the books and toys, and she'd spend hours coloring or building with their huge toy blocks or perusing books with me. Joy doesn't work that way. She'd throw (or eat) the crayons, use the aisles as a racetrack, have little-to-no interest in the books I'd present.
In fact, it's even more challenging with books lately. Joy has always been hard on her board book collection, but the newest wrinkle is: she's decided that the best use for a board book is to fold it backwards, presumably for the sensory delight in breaking its spine. More and more of her books have ended up as tattered individual cardboard pages.
I don't check out library books for Joy to mangle.
Our most successful public-library experiences have come courtesy of a friend of ours who also happens to be the children's librarian at a nearby branch. Together with Joy's former daycare bud and his mom, we'd sign up for toddler story-times led by this librarian, for half-hour sessions full of songs, fingerplay, books and toys. I would have to do a lot of corralling Joy, and occasionally she'd be too intent on leaving to make it worth staying. The big bonus, though, was having the toddler-time led by someone who knew her and valued her, someone she was comfortable with, who didn't get bent out of shape when Joy was noisy or not particularly attentive or masticating her nametag or whatever.
Joy's full schedule of intensive autism therapy has pretty much ruled out any story-time attendance lately. I do take her to the library but it's mostly for my own errands, to check out books that I've placed on hold and to return others. She does enjoy helping me put each book into the return slot and pushing it until it falls, but I pretty much have to keep a tight hold on her hand the entire time we're there.
What public library memories do you have to share? (I said autism-related above, but if you have a non-spectrum story to share, sure, why not.) What works well at your public library in that regard? What doesn't? What would you change about it if you had your druthers? Tell me your story!