Library Services for Patrons with Autism

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Library Services for Patrons with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Other Related Disorders


The following resources provide low-cost introductory Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) library service enhancements. These should assist many persons with ASD and ASD care providers to participate in the services of the public library.     

Library Guide

  1. Staff Awareness. Online Video by Library Connections
  2. Sensory Issues. Online Video by Autism Speaks
  3. "This is My Library". Use provided templates and examples to create a visual/photographic story for the library web site, in-house visitors, and community partners. This allows for preparation for a library visit.
  4. Visual Communication Guides.  Libraries and Autism provides excellent library oriented communication guides allowing both librarian and patron to communicate with each other.
  5. Calming Stations.   People with sensory overload may need a quiet, low traffic area equipped with calmers.  Calmers are items like fidgets, art supplies, puzzles,  or a sound buffering headset.   A calming station can provide a self-calming opportunity.
  6. Autism Apps.  Computers and tablets can provide valuable communication, social story, and education assistance to persons with autism.   
  7. Sensory Story Times.   Association of Library Service for Children 
  8. Teen Programming. Young Adult Library Services Association. A book list is included.  
  9. A SCKLS Autism Awareness Kit is available through SCKLS Interlibrary loan. Click here to view in SCKLS online catalog. Kit contains materials to assist libraries with children’s programming, teen programming, adult education, fidgets, information about technology apps, an inspirational DVD, and more. 

Additional Resources


Brady, Lois. Apps for Autism: A Must-Have Resource for the Special Needs Community.  Arlington: Future Horizons, 2015. Print

Farmer, Leslie. Library Services for Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Chicago: ALA, 2013. Print

Feinberg, Sandra, Barbara Jordon, Kathleen Deerr, and Michelle Langa.  Including Families of Children with Special Needs: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians. Revised ed. Chicago: Neal-Shuman, 2014. Print.

Klipper, Barbara. Programming for Children and Teens with  Autism Spectrum Disorder. Chicago: ALA, 2014. Print

Moss, Samantha and Lesley Schwartz. Where's My Stuff? San Francisco: Zest, 2007. Print

Notbohm, Ellen. Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew. Arlington: Future Horizons, 2012. Print.

Sicile-Kira, Chantal. 41 Things to Know About Autism. Nashville: Turner Publishing, 2010. Print

Sicile-Kira, Chantal. Autism Spectrum Disorder: The Complete Guide to Understanding Autism. New York: Penguin, 2014. Print

Willey, Liane H. Ask and Tell: Self-Advocacy and Disclosure for People on the Autism Spectrum. Shawnee Mission, KS: Autism Asperger Publishing, 2004. Print

Family Resources

Autism Research Institute,

 Autism Speaks, 

Autism Society of America,

Autism Source Database,

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:   Learn the Signs. Act Early. 

Librarian Service Tips

  1. Autism is a neurological disorder.  Physical behaviors and sounds are used to compensate and try to calm overstimulated senses.  Keep calming materials and a calming location available for use.
  2. Many young people with Autism are visual learners.  Create and refer to a  story time visual schedule which includes both the story time sequence and behaviors that are expected with that activity (sitting, standing, singing, finger play,  etc...).
  3. Try to ask questions that a patron with ASD can answer in a yes/no format.  Use library word cards or an app to assist in communication. 

Additional Information

The American Library Association's Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies has created a "Library Accessibility:  What You Need to Know" tip sheet.  This guide covers a spectrum of accessibility topics such as service animals, physical disabilities, mental disabilities and assistive technology.

Please contact, Robin Hargrave, Youth and School Services Consultant for additional information.
Toll free: 1-800-234-0529, ext. 144
Office: 620-259-7473