By Amy Price
Librarian, Oakstone Academy
Autism affects 1 in 88 children. As the librarian at Oakstone Academy, that is not just a statistic to me because autism affects over half of the 600 students that I serve in my school libraries. With that percentage of my patrons on the autism spectrum, I don’t just desire to find out what works, I need to find out what works and how librarians can help this population overcome their barriers to information acquisition and learning.
Thanks to LSTA grant funding, the State Library of Ohio, and the support of the Oakstone Academy students and staff, we have been able to demonstrate the effectiveness of interactive eBooks on iPads with this population. As more librarians start to embrace this ever-growing population, we’re keen to spread the word. So what have we learned so far?
- With a little extra effort, you can successfully reach your patrons with autism and their families through Digital Sensory Storytimes. I helped to put together a four-part video tutorial teaches how and why to develop a Digital Sensory Storytime so that you can include children with autism in your library programming. This technique meets the needs of children with sensory processing issues, like those of children with autism, and is also interesting and attractive to typically developing children. An accompanying resource guide offers tools, support, and background information about library services to children and teens with autism spectrum disorders and their families. See this addition to the Ohio Ready to Read website.
- The iPad is an effective tool for lay people to communicate with individuals with autism. Also, large groups of iPads can be administered effectively using Apple Configurator.
- Patrons with autism have 21-25% greater comprehension when using an interactive eBook with text, audio and full color illustrations than they do when using a traditional print book.
Want to learn more? Check out my recent publications about digital sensory and autism. Price, A. (2014, February). Autism And IPads: What We Are Learning. Teacher Librarian, 41 (3), 40-41. and Price, A. (2011, October). Making A Difference With Smart Tablets: Are IPads Really Beneficial For Students With Autism? Teacher Librarian, 39 (1), 31-34.
Amy Price serves as the librarian at Oakstone Academy in central Ohio. Oakstone Academy serves students with autism ages 12 months to 22 years and their typically developing peers. Founded by Dr. Rebecca Morrison in 1999, the school is based on the Social and Academic Immersion Model. This model features not only a classroom but a school-wide environment that fosters high expectations in behavior and academic achievement for all students. Visit our website at ccde.org or contact Amy Price at firstname.lastname@example.org.