At the beginning of October, my colleague Michael and I began presenting Sensory Discoveries storytime at CLP – Squirrel Hill. Sensory Discoveries is a program designed for children with autism and other sensory processing disorders, as well as peers of all abilities. It is a warm and welcoming space where children and their caregivers can gather to share stories, songs and hands-on activities.
Some of the things you may expect to find at our Sensory Discoveries storytime include the use of a visual schedule, lots of repetition and activities to engage the senses while promoting play and early learning.
We use a visual schedule so that you can follow along and know what comes next during storytime. We also use visual guides to share the words to rhymes and songs to help facilitate learning.
For children with autism, the three R’s, otherwise known as routine, repetition and redundancy, are important elements to any learning experience. During storytime, we try to repeat many elements from week to week to help build skills and create a sense of routine. This includes starting and ending with the same hello/goodbye songs, repeating rhymes and reading books that have repetitive parts. The three R’s can help ease anxiety and make the experience more predictable. It can also encourage participation.
We end our Sensory Discoveries storytime with a variety of hands-on activities. These activities include building toys like Magna-Tiles and puzzles, as well as sensory exploration items like smelling jars (spice jars filled with different scents like cinnamon and lavender), stepping stones, a texture bag and the ever popular water beads.
Sensory Discoveries storytime is offered at a variety of CLP locations. Elements of the storytime may vary from location to location. We encourage you and your family to attend them all!
If you’d like to learn more about this program and its development, check out Briana’s post: Storytime: Sensory Discoveries at Your Library!
Jessica is a Children’s Specialist at CLP – Squirrel Hill. An avid reader of all things Moomin, Jessica also enjoys beekeeping, biking and digging in the dirt.