Autism is now the second most commonly diagnosed developmental disability, which is why it’s so important to develop programs that support this community — especially programs that encourage personal growth. Other intellectual and developmental disabilities bring their own unique challenges to growth, recreation, and a feeling of belonging in the community.
Throughout history, libraries have aimed to enhance the quality of life among local residents. These community meeting spots provide an endless supply of learning, as well as recreational activities for those interested. However, for those living with intellectual and developmental disabilities, heading to the library isn’t always a comfortable experience.
At the Adult Autism Center, we have created a library literacy program that not only encourages reading but also supports the development of social skills. In addition, our clients learn how to care for an item that they must later return. We help our clients become more comfortable in an environment that resembles a library so they can transfer the skills they learn into everyday life.
Clients will have access to books and computers in the library. They will be able to check out books and learn the skills used to access the public library. They will have to take care of the materials they check out and return them. The skills will then be generalized to accessing the public library.
For example, we will teach individuals that there is a limit to the number of items they can borrow from the library at one time. There is also a time limit associated with these items. Our staff will go through the process of checking out “library-owned” items so that the individuals can then take the books or resources they’re interested in. Once those items are returned, they can borrow more books of their choosing.
While books are chosen based on reading levels, we also work with our clients to offer books that are interesting to them. Our goal at the Adult Autism Center is to motivate our clients to get involved in their local community, leveraging the public services available to them. In this case, their local library.
Staff will lead lessons about specific books while they are in the library. We will have developmentally appropriate books available for them to read with their clients and complete a lesson with them.
Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities typically perform at average or above-average levels when decoding written language. For many, reading is a rewarding activity — especially when reading about a topic that is of particular interest. However, no two individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities display the same degree of symptoms, showcase the same strengths, or have the same weaknesses — which is something we recognize at the Adult Autism Center.
Each individual is unique, and the activities offered within this program will reflect that understanding.
Although we encourage learning and reading, this program is more about the process of visiting a library so that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities can leverage the resources available to them.
We have developed one core library program. However, within this program, there are many unique opportunities for each individual. We take a personalized approach, highlighting each client's strengths while focusing on areas that they wish to improve.
The books we offer will be chosen based on the client’s current reading levels as measured by their programs in our web-based curriculum and informal and formal measures. We get to know our clients so they get the most out of the programs they take part in, including our personalized library program. We help our clients build on the skills they already possess while encouraging the development of new skills.
Staff will collect and monitor data measuring each client’s independence and progress toward greater independence utilizing library services. The goal here is to help our clients better prepare for life outside of the Adult Autism Center, helping them reach individual milestones.
If you or your loved one are 18 years of age or older, we welcome you to contact the Adult Autism Center for more information about our library program. We will happily discuss details with you so that you can decide if this program is a good fit. In addition to you learning more about the Adult Autism Center, we encourage you to fill out our referral form. That will allow us to get to know you better so that we can offer more personalized recommendations — not just regarding our library program, but all of our programs.