We don’t all think and learn the same, and some families face extra challenges in navigating a world where their child develops differently than others.

Last year, local families came to us to say their children were “outside of the box” — kids with special needs, sensory issues, or other developmental challenges that had yet to be identified. They wanted assistance in getting and sharing information in order to help their kids succeed.  A team of librarians, led by experienced educator Pat Winkler, worked with these parents to develop a Sensory Story Time, a speaker series, and a listserv for information sharing.

Sensory Storytime is held on Sundays at 11:00am for families with children 3-8 years of age who are on the autism spectrum or are prone to sensory overload. Participation is limited to 12 children and their families; registration is required. This has been an extraordinary experience for these families, as their children create bonds with one another and stretch into new activities in a nurturing environment with the encouragement of others like them. Older children are developing into mentors for the younger children.

Family Storytime with Ms. Cristen at Westbank on Saturdays at 12:30pm is discovery-based and sensory-focused, but it is not limited to children with autism or sensory issues and requires no registration.

The “Outside of the Box” speaker series is held on the first Wednesday of each month at 10:30am at Laura’s Library. When possible, we also live-stream the talk and post the video to YouTube. On October 4, we will be hosting occupational therapist Kathy Nicholson to talk about surviving the holiday season with a child with sensory issues.

As our sensory-based programming has evolved, our team has also developed volunteer opportunities for adults who have learning challenges.  For questions about sensory programs at the library, email pat@westbanklibrary.com.

Whatever needs or challenges your family is facing, the library is here to support you with access to information and programming. Just let us know!