Autism Spectrum Disorders and Libraries: Developing Welcoming and Accessible Library Resources and Services for Patrons on the Spectrum
Instructor: Dawn Behrend
Dates: November 4th through 29th, 2019
Credits: 1.5 CEUs or 15 PDHs
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 59 children have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ASD impacts all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups and is a pervasive developmental disorder which is present across the lifespan. As such, a notable portion of patrons served by school, public, and academic libraries presents with ASD or is otherwise “on the spectrum”. Individuals with ASD may have different accessibility and communication challenges than their neurotypical peers. This course will provide librarians with a better understanding of ASD, effective means of communicating individuals with ASD, strategies for designing inviting and accessible library environments and programming, and suggestions for building relationships with community partners to better serve the needs of patrons with ASD.
The instructor has a unique background in being a second career librarian after having worked as a psychologist for 20 years and having extensive experiencing in performing psychological evaluations for ASD.
By the end of the course, students will:
- Develop a better understanding of ASD as it presents in children, adolescents, and adults. Improve communication skills with individuals with ASD including nonverbal communication and de-escalating/redirecting challenging behaviors and interactions.
- Design an autism friendly library environment which is welcoming, accessible, and in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- Work with community partners to develop potential referral sources, training opportunities, mental health programming, and services to benefit patrons with ASD.
Dawn Behrend is an Instruction and Reference Librarian at Lenoir-Rhyne University, where she serves as the liaison for psychology, counseling, mathematics, computer science, and business. Ms. Behrend also manages the library's social media and 3D printing lab. She holds a B.A. in Psychology, M.A. in Clinical Psychology, Master of Business Administration, and Master of Library Science. Ms. Behrend has worked for 20 years as a clinical psychologist and is a second career librarian. Ms. Behrend continues to work in private practice in addition to her work as an academic librarian.
This is an online class that is taught asynchronously, meaning that participants do the work on their own time as their schedules allow. The class does not meet together at any particular times, although the instructor may set up optional sychronous chat sessions. Instruction includes readings and assignments in one-week segments. Class participation is in an online forum environment.
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