Applications Accepted for 2020-2021 “Autism Welcome Here: Library Programs, Services and More” Starting September 2, 2019

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Since 2016, this grant has been offered, honoring the groundbreaking work of Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected co-founder, Meg Kolaya, for her contributions in promoting inclusion, connecting libraries with the autism community, and bringing awareness of the needs of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families to the library community.

GRANT PROGRAM DESCRIPTIONFor the fifth year, this grant will award a total of $5,000.00, with all of the funds either awarded to one proposal or divided among several applicants, depending on the applications received. All types of libraries in the United States or Canada are encouraged to apply.  Proposals will be eligible that fund projects and/or services directed at any age group. Applicants may propose to initiate a new, creative program or service or enhance one that they currently offer. All proposed projects must benefit people with autism or their families, directly or indirectly. Funds may be used to hire a trainer to present a workshop, buy program materials, pay for staff coverage, etc., so long as these expenses further the library’s ability to serve people with autism through the proposed initiative.   Click HERE, to see the previous grant winners and funded projects.


  • Applications will be accepted starting:       Monday,  September 2, 2019     
  • The application deadline:                          Monday, December 2, 2019         
  • The winning applicant(s) will be notified by:  Monday, March 2, 2020       
  • The grant-funding period:                                   April 1, 2020 – March 31, 2021


SELECTION CRITERIA – Each application must show evidence of:

  • A clear, well-planned and organized description of the project.
  • Significant potential impact.
  • Institutional support.
  • People with autism, family members or other community stakeholders who are involved in the project development and/or its implementation.
  • A project that can be replicated in other communities.
  • An understanding of the needs of people with autism and/or best practices in working with this population.
  • A sustainability/continuation plan of the service or program after the end of the grant period.
  • The need for outside funding to execute the project.



The 2020-2021 grant forms can be downloaded at the three linked headings below:

“A Spectrum on the Shelves: Building a Library Collection for People with Autism” – Targeting Autism Webinar, Sept. 17, 2019

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Jen taggart

Jennifer Taggart

Assistant Department Head of Youth Services, Bloomfield Township Public Library (Michigan)
Accessibility Services Speaker & Consultant

As we conduct much needed diversity audits of the materials on our shelves, we need to be including materials for the neurodivergent community in this analysis. Attendees will gain awareness and a working knowledge of autism spectrum disorder along with common neurodevelopmental disorders that can coincide with autism.  In this interactive webinar, we will identify adaptive materials and multimedia geared to cognitive, motor, visual, auditory, sensory and social skills development.  Insight given on collaboration with autistic self-advocates, caregivers, special education professionals and rehabilitative therapists to help plan appropriate collection components. Attendees will also take away tips on processing, sustainability, and marketing.

Jen Taggart is Assistant Head of Youth Services and librarian responsible for the Youth Special Needs Collection  at the Bloomfield Township (MI) Public Library. She has presented on accessibility in library services and collection development nationally, in addition to creating the biennial Adaptive Umbrella Workshop for librarians working with people who have disabilities. She also co-developed the Special Needs Services Roundtable (SNSR) of Michigan librarians providing services for children, teens, and adults with disabilities and serves as programming chair of the Michigan Alliance for Cultural Accessibility (MACA). In 2009, Jen received the Michigan Library Association Children’s Services Division Award of Merit for her development of the Special Needs Collection and innovative youth programs and was named a Mover & Shaker by Library Journal in 2016. You can also find her blogging about inclusive services at Adaptive Umbrella 

This free webinar is open to all and will be held on Tuesday, September 17th, from 12:30-1:30pm (CST).  To enter the Adobe room at the time of the event, click: A Spectrum on the Shelves: Building a Library Collection for People with Autism

If you plan to attend the webinar, please click:  Suzanne Schriar ,  to send an email.  Include your name and name of library (if applicable). 

On the day of the webinar and prior to the start time, please test your connection at:


Steph Diori Explains That Autistic People Need to Play a Key Role in Discussions about Serving the Autism Community

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At the 2019 Targeting Autism Forum, Steph Diorio, librarian, blogger, autistic self-advocate and founder of Autistic Gaming Initiative, discussed her advocacy work and using her position in the library to advocate for and serve autistic people in the community.   With humor and openness, Steph encourages autistic people to advocate for themselves and to speak up.  As Steph explains, this is the only way to change the culture around you.

Steph’s presentation can be seen in its entirety, here:

Living the Good Life with Autism: Erin Miller Shares Her Personal Journey

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Erin Miller, self-advocate, lecturer and co-founder of SAVE IRIS , shares her insights on having choices, overcoming challenges and living the “good life” with autism at the 2019 Targeting Autism Forum.


Autism Advocate, Dilshad D. Ali, Shares Resources That Serve People with Disabilities in the American Muslim Communities.

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Dilshad D. Ali has worked in the realm of autism advocacy for years, currently serving on the Advisory Board for Muslims Understanding and Helping Special Education Needs (Muhsen) and in the past as the Chair of the Advisory Board for EnabledMuslim, affiliated with American Muslim Health Professionals. She is serving her last year on the Virginia’s Autism Advisory Council and advocated for the passage of an autism health insurance bill free of age caps, which came to fruition this past legislative year.

In 2015, in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act, she was honored as a White House Champion of Change for her writing on autism, faith and family in Muslim communities on her blog, The Muslimah Next Door. Ali has worked as a journalist and editor covering Muslims in America for nearly two decades and is the blog editor at Haute Hijab, the leading global hijab company where she leads a team of writers in covering all news, issues and stories pertaining to Muslim women.  She is mom to three great kids, the eldest of whom is autistic – nonverbal, but certainly not non-communicative.

Lei Wiley Mydske Shows Us How the Neurodiversity Movement Serves to Spread the Language of Autism Acceptance

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lei TA 2019

Autism advocate and creator of the Ed Wiley Autism Acceptance Library, Lei Wiley Mydske discusses the need to use more positive and non-pathologizing language to describe the autism spectrum.  The neurodiversity movement provides a more humanizing way to communicate about people whose brains work in different ways than those that society at large views as “normal.”   The following slide illustrates how the power of language to describe the characteristics of autism can be used to either isolate neurodivergent people or to generate inclusion.Lei wiley mydske blog post slide

You can view Lei’s full presentation here:

John Elder Robison Inspires Us to Celebrate Differences and Turn Childhood Disabilities into Gifts

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John Elder Robison, author and world recognized authority on living with autism shares his personal story on overcoming challenges and how embracing differences is key to a rich and fulfilling life.