Digital Sensory Storytime
This four-part tutorial shows how and why to develop a "digital sensory storytime", as one way to include children with autism in your library programming. This technique is responsive to needs of children with autism and other sensory processing issues, and is also interesting and attractive to typically developing children. It provides an option for incorporating technology, and leveraging its benefits, in developing a sensory storytime. An accompanying resource guide links to the resources discussed in the tutorial, and to additional tools, supports, best practices, and general information about library services to young people with autism and to their families.
Presenter Amy Price, former librarian at Oakstone Academy in Westerville, Ohio, promotes the use of digital storybooks and the practice of inclusion to support children with autism and other sensory processing disorders. Amy's LSTA-funded project at Oakstone Academy indicated that children with sensory processing issues benefit from the use of interactive digital books, for reading and for experiencing library programming.
The tutorial includes segments on Autism and the Library, Interactive eBooks, Preparing Your Environment, and Communication During Storytime. Each segment is between 15-26 minutes long.
Digital Sensory Storytime Tutorial
Digital Sensory Storytime: Part 1: Autism and the Library
Digital Sensory Storytime: Part 2: Interactive eBooks
Digital Sensory Storytime: Part 3: Preparing Your Environment
Digital Sensory Storytime: Part 4: Communication During Storytime
Credits: This tutorial was developed and recorded by Amy Price, Librarian at Oakstone Academy. Editing and production by Janet Ingraham Dwyer, Library Consultant, State Library of Ohio; and Michelle Garver, Information Services Specialist, Columbus Metropolitan Library. Michelle's participation was made possible through a Kent State University School of Library and Information Science Culminating Practicum assignment at the State Library of Ohio. The demonstration of Green Eggs and Ham is presented with the permission of Oceanhouse Media. The demonstration of Story Creator is presented with the permission of Alligator Apps. Permission to use photos in Part 2: Interactive eBooks granted by Heather Blake/Vernon Area Public Library, and by Dru Nadler. Permission to use photo in Part 3: Preparing Your Environment ("Awareness: What will they see?") granted by Tricia Twarogowski. Thanks to Sara Kloek and Alexandra Cooke at ACT: The App Association for sharing information about Moms with Apps. Thanks to Marsha McDevitt-Stredney, Mandy Knapp, and Kirsten Krumsee at the State Library of Ohio for technical assistance and advice.
Please note that descriptions and demonstrations of products, and links to product websites, are provided as a service to libraries and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the State Library of Ohio or IMLS.
Digital Sensory Storytime Resource Guide
- Sample Digital Sensory Storytime by Amy Price. This 2-page instruction guide describes the environment and sequence of events of an example digital sensory storytime using Green Eggs and Ham (PDF file, 51KB).
- Sensory Storytime: Begin with ALSC!, a post on the SNAILS: Special Needs and Inclusive Library Services blog, November 23, 2013.
- Sensory Storytimes, a presentation at the 2013 Oregon Library Association/Washington Library Association Conference by Esther Moberg, Library Director, Seaside Public Library (OR) (PDF file, 3MB).
- Sensory Storytime How-To Guide by the Tulsa City-County Library Sensory Storytime Pilot Committee, October 2012 (PDF file, 229 KB).
- Sensory Storytime: A (brief) How-To Guide by Ashley Waring, Children's Librarian, Reading Public Library (MA). ALSC blog, March 14, 2012.
- Sensory Storytimes: Reaching Children with Special Needs in the Public Library, a panel discussion from the 2011 North Carolina Library Association conference.
- Sensory Storytime: Preschool Programming That Makes Sense for Kids with Autism is a fee-based archived ALSC webinar that covers some of the theory behind Sensory Storytime, some options and issues related to this type of programming, and the specifics of how one public library structures its Sensory Storytime program.
Digital books/apps/iPad resources
- Best Apps for Teaching & Learning 2013, a service of the American Association of School Librarians.
- Moms With Apps supports app developers who create family-friendly apps. In 2013, Moms With Apps and ACT: The Association for Competitive Technology entered into a partnership to bring best practices in online privacy to the forefront of kids' application development.
- Interactive eBook developers discussed in the tutorial include Oceanhouse Media, iStoryTime, and Nosy Crow.
General resources for working with patrons with autism in the library
- Including Families of Children with Special Needs: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians, revised edition, a book revised by Carrie Scott Banks; by Sandra Feinberg, Barbara Jordan, Kathleen Deerr, and Michelle Langa (ALA Neal-Schuman, 2014).
- Programming for Children and Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder, a book by Barbara Klipper (ALA Editions, 2014). Here is an ALA press release with details about this book.
- Inclusive Services Training for Library Staff, a series of video trainings and support materials provided by the San JosÚ Public Library and the Santa Clara County Office of Education's Inclusion Collaborative and Digital Design and Media Services. This series is provided to help librarians establish inclusive storytimes and other literacy services that can better meet the needs of children with autism and other special needs. All materials are free to use. This project was supported in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act.
- Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected, a project of the Scotch Plains Public Library (NJ) and Fanwood Memorial Library (NJ). This project offers training videos and in-person and online courses on best practices and universal service for persons with ASD. View the videos, "Libraries and Autism, part 1" and "Libraries and Autism, part 2".
- Going Beyond Sensory Storytime: Sensory School-Age Programming by Tricia Bohanon Twarogowski, a post on the ALSC blog about programming for developmentally older children.
- Programming for Children with Special Needs by Tricia Bohanon Twarogowski, a series on the ALSC blog. The link is to part 1 of 5; links to the other parts appear within part 1. See also Follow-Up to ALSC Blog Series "Special Needs Programming, Parts 1-5" for updates and program enhancements.
- Programs for Children with Autism and Their Families by Susanna Chan; a program from the 2012 New Jersey Library Association conference.
- "Autism and iPads: What We Are Learning", an article by Amy Price. Teacher-Librarian, Feb. 2014, pp. 40-41. (subscription required)
Tools and supports described in the tutorial
- Story Creator app, which may be used to create a "Storytime Storybook" as described in part 3 of the tutorial.
- What Are Social Stories™? from the Gray Center for Social Learning and Understanding.
- Boardmaker software, Boardmaker Share, and Boardmaker Achieve as described in part 4 of the tutorial.
- Reflector Airplay Receiver as described in part 4.
- Visual Timer example shown in part 4.
- Autism Speaks
- Autism Society
- Centers for Disease Control
- National Autism Association
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
- State-by-state Resource Guide from Autism Speaks lists schools, afterschool programs, therapeutic services, health services, intervention providers, support networks, and other important services and resources for people with autism and their families.
- Autism information from Healthfinder.gov.
Thank you to Kathleen Carter, intern at EducatorLabs, for recommending additional resources for this guide.
About the Presenter
Amy Price worked from 2001-2014 at Oakstone Academy, a private school in central Ohio serving students with autism, and their non-disabled peers; ages 12 months to 22 years. Oakstone Academy's academic and social inclusion model features not only a classroom but a school-wide environment that fosters high expectations in behavior and academic achievement for all students. Amy became involved with the State Library of Ohio when she received an Institute of Museum and Library Services LSTA grant awarded by the State Library of Ohio, that allowed her to study and implement a school-wide iPad project. In 2012, Amy received her MLIS degree from Kent State University.