The Literacy Office of the Illinois State Library (ISL) included autism on the list of important topics addressed at this year’s “On the Road to Literacy” Conference held at the University of Illinois, Chicago, on Saturday, April 8. Mary Pelich, Autism Trainer & Consultant, *Targeting Autism Project, ISL; Suzanne Schriar, Associate Director, Library Automation & Technology, ISL, and Principle Investigator, Targeting Autism Project; and Debra Vines, Illinois State Library Advisory Committee Member and Founder & Executive Director of The Answer, Inc. had the privilege of delivering presentations at the event. April, designated as Autism Awareness Month, contributed to the focus and timeliness of the content.
Mary and Suzanne shared their knowledge of the highly individualized and often hidden characteristics of autism. They provided many suggestions and examples of ways to overcome the learning obstacles and challenges faced by individuals with autism, including: (1) physical and spatial accommodations, (2) visual aids, (3) format adaptations of reading materials, and (4) practical advice for ensuring inclusive and welcoming interactions. Debra shared her personal story as the mother of an adult son with non-verbal autism and how her experience led her to start her own not for profit organization, The Answer, Inc., in 2007. The Answer supports parents and caregivers by providing case management/referral services, resources, tutoring and recreational opportunities for individuals with autism and their families. Debra addressed the major issue of young adults on the spectrum who experience unique challenges in finding work or enrolling in appropriate education opportunities after leaving high school due to poor literacy skills; and she shared how The Answer, Inc., is addressing this need with their “Spectrum University Tutoring Program”.
In addition to these workshops, Mary and Suzanne led a lunchtime discussion with literacy tutors on how the ISL Literacy Office has added autism-related books to their adult new reader collections and story kits. Both also provided a demonstration of sensory activities added to the story kits to engage new readers on the autism spectrum. General information and instructions on borrowing the materials and working with new readers was also shared. For more information about the Literacy Office at the Illinois State Library, contact Beth Paoli.
*Targeting Autism is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Secretary of State/Illinois State Library.
There are still some openings to attend the Targeting Autism Forum, May 11-12th at the Illinois State Library, but we are quickly reaching our attendance limit. The complete agenda is available here:
If you are interested in attending, please send an email to Suzanne Schriar with a brief statement about what you hope to gain from the forum.
If you are unable to attend, all forum sessions will be recorded and archived for viewing after the event.
The “Autism Welcome Here: Library Programs, Services and More” Grant Committee is proud to announce the Albert Wisner Public Library in Warwick, New York as this year’s grant recipient. As the winner of this grant, the library will receive $5000 for their project “Improve Your Social Life: Social Skills for Tweens and Teens with Autism.”
The “Autism Welcome Here: Library Programs, Services and More” Grant is sponsored by Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected (www.librariesandautism.org). This grant honors the memory of Meg Kolaya and her groundbreaking work as co-founder of Libraries and Autism, as well as her contributions in promoting inclusion, connecting libraries and the autism community, and bringing awareness to the needs of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
The Albert Wisner Public Library will provide a series of workshops designed to support the development of social skills for teens and tweens with ASD. In this series, participants will have the opportunity to learn about the library, form a book group, enhance their social media etiquette, express themselves through art projects, play board games, take part in a group dance, and more. The program has three primary goals: introduce and encourage social skills that teens and tweens can apply in the library and beyond; provide those on the spectrum and their families a safe and familiar place in the community; demonstrate respect for neurodiversity and inclusion.
Barbara Klipper, creator of the grant said, “I am delighted that this year’s grant winner is Albert Wisner Public Library. Their parent-initiated proposal was well-written, is easily replicable and serves an often overlooked subgroup of the ASD population. In 2016, we funded projects for preschoolers and for college students. This year, we are funding an initiative for tweens and teens. It is my hope that these grant-winning projects will inspire a wide range of libraries to serve people of all ages with ASD.”
Daniel F. Flores, Ph.D. is from the Judith J. Carrier Library at Tarrant County College in Texas, one of the recipients of last year’s “Autism Welcome Here” Grant. The college developed a new project to support a successful transition to college students with ASD. When asked about the impact this grant had on his college community, Flores said, “I am thankful for the Autism Welcome Here Grant. Our Autism Spectrum College Information Talks Project at Tarrant County College offers expert-led forums designed around the research question—how can we facilitate a successful transition to college for students with ASD? My own awareness of students with ASD has grown immensely, and this experience has opened my eyes to the amazing capabilities and gifts of college students with ASD.”
The “Autism Welcome Here: Library Programs, Services, and More” Grant Committee extends their congratulations to Albert Wisner Public Library and to all of the libraries that submitted proposals.
Applications for the 2018 grant(s) will be accepted starting September 1, 2017. More information about the grant can be found at www.librariesandautism.org/grant.
Members of the 2017 “Autism Welcome Here: Library Programs, Services, and More” Grant Committee include Daniel Flores (2017); Renee Grassi (2016, 2017); Barbara Klipper (2016, 2017); Adria Nassim (2016, 2017); Suzanne Schriar (2016, 2017); Debra Vines (2016, 2017); and Dan Weiss (2016, 2017).
Colin Eldred-Cohen is a creative writer and storyteller, who is on the autism spectrum. Colin is an active member of the Autistic Creatives Collective (ACC), a community of talented creative writers, artists and musicians on the autism spectrum. Colin and his father Donald Cohen will be two of the presenters at the 2017 Targeting Autism forum, held at the Illinois State Library, May 11-12. Among the topics presented, father and son will share ideas about how libraries can help to foster creative expression in the autism community.
The Illinois State Library is currently accepting registrations for the 2017 Targeting Autism Forum, to be held at the Illinois State Library, Springfield, IL, on May 11-12. Lodging will be provided, May 10-11, at the Springfield Wyndham Hotel (formerly Hilton). Upon registration, a room will be reserved in your name. Meals and snacks during the conference will also be provided. Reimbursement for transportation, however, will only be provided to forum presenters.
As in past years, the State Library can accommodate 80 participants. We would like to encourage participation from those who have not previously attended one or both of the earlier forums. If you have attended in the past, we encourage you to register early as registration for previous attendees will be on a first-come-first-serve basis. As always, all forum sessions will be recorded for viewing on the Targeting Autism YouTube Channel.
To register for the 2017 Targeting Autism Forum, simply send an email to Suzanne Schriar and include the following information:
Subject line: I would like to attend the 2017 Targeting Autism Forum
Place of Employment and address:
Contact Information, including email and phone:
Include a brief paragraph stating what you hope to gain from this forum (see highlights below)
A sampling of the 2017 forum presenters includes the following:
will be our keynote speaker to open the forum on Thursday. Author of Asperger’s from the Inside Out and Unemployed on the Autism Spectrum (with two other books in production), Carley was the founder and first Executive Director of GRASP and former Executive Director of ASTEP. He now works as an international autism consultant and motivational speaker. Mr. Carley also received a diagnosis of Asperger’s after his son was diagnosed.
is author of four books. He is an internationally recognized relationship consultant and motivational speaker. He was diagnosed with Aspergers, ADHD and Dyslexia after his 3 boys were diagnosed with ADHD and Aspergers. King turned his consulting and coaching business into a virtual format to accommodate clients from across the globe.
is author of Serving Families of Children with Special Needs: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians (ALA Editions) and has been director of the Brooklyn Public Library’s Child’s Place for Children with Special Needs since 1997. In 2015, Banks was elected to the Board of Directors of ASCLA as the Designated Director for Special Populations. An expert in library inclusion, she will present an interactive approach to problem-solve common issues for librarians with regard to autism, diversity, accommodation and inclusion.
is often referred to as the “Queen of Visuals.” Over 30 years in the field as an autism consultant, trainer, author and teacher, Hodgdon’s strategies are practical for every setting. Two of her practical guides: Visual Strategies for Improving Communication and Solving Behavior Problems in Autism are invaluable resources for educators, librarians, parents and anyone who works with children with autism or other developmental/communication disorders.
who is founder and Executive Director of In the Public Interest, helped to establish the Autism Creatives Collective, a community of talented creative writers, artists and musicians on the spectrum who support each other in their creative endeavors. Cohen is also father to Colin Eldred-Cohen, a young adult with autism who has just published his first children’s book. Together they will deliver an engaging presentation about Colin’s path to creative writing, the special difficulties that creative people on the spectrum face and how libraries can support writers and other creatives on the spectrum.
The Tu Y Yo: Young Adults with Autism Mentoring, Educating and Advocating. This group of young adults with autism will educate and inspire us all as they share the active roles they take with each other and in their community to address needs for all individuals with autism, especially young adults.
We will have two panel discussions:
- Panel on Autism and Employment in Libraries with Philip Zupon, Tina Dolcetti, Ata Bird and Dan O’Hara.
- Janet McAllister of the Rochester, Illinois Public Library and Maggie Henderson of the Glen Carbon, Illinois Public Library will discuss providing library internship opportunities for students/individuals on the spectrum.
This and more promises to make for an intensive and engaging forum experience. We hope to see you there!
The Targeting Autism national forum will be held May 11 and 12, 2017 at the Illinois State Library, in Springfield, Illinois. Seating is limited. This year, we would like to prioritize registration for “first-timers,” those who have not previously attended one of the forums, while still allowing the continuing education of former attendees. Registration forms will be available soon. Mark your calendar today!
Debra Vines, Founder/Executive Director of The Answer Inc. and Targeting Autism board member discusses the challenges faced by her community in accessing autism support and services in an interview with ABC News Correspondent, John Donvan.