April is Autism Acceptance Month and the Library has an array of resources to explore as we work towards developing a more inclusive community. I have had the privilege of learning how to facilitate meaningful programs for neurodiverse populations, which is by far my favorite part of my job. Neurodiversity is defined as “the range of differences in individual brain function and behavioral traits, regarded as part of normal variation in the human population” and a term that reflects personal preference. To me, neurodiversity is when we value and accept (not tolerate) the many ways we can process life.
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library has dedicated its mission to developing inclusive services, and talented staff have pioneered Library services that are now replicated around the world – and the ripple effect of that sharing of knowledge has started to close the gap on inclusion. From increasing accessibility in our branches, developing an accessible digital collection, procuring adaptive technologies and facilitating adaptive & sensory programming, we strive to be an agency that serves with intention. Through a partnership with The Autism Society of Charlotte, the Library has developed a robust Autism Resource Collection located at the Spangler Library in ImaginOn.
The biggest byproduct of our mission is the countless opportunities we, as Library staff, have to celebrate neurodiversity. The Exceptional Experiences team identifies areas of advocacy and develops programming partnerships that extend the reach of the Library beyond our walls and increase inclusion in our community. We have had the utmost pleasure of developing partnerships with the Autism Society of North Carolina, Greater Down Syndrome Association of Charlotte, Parks & Recreation Therapeutic services and many other agencies. Our desire, joy and goal is developing strong connections with the community-at-large, housing resources that can serve everyone and making sure our program participants know they are valued stakeholders.
For information relating to adaptive & sensory programming at the Library, see below:
Children’s Book Recommendations and Resources for Autism Acceptance Month:
This blog was written by Amrita Patel, outreach specialist for Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.