Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Autism-friendly approaches for museums and libraries

WAADToday is World Autism Awareness Day, so an appropriate time to put down some thoughts about making libraries and museums autism-friendly for children and families, and give some links.

Museums and libraries can be great places for autistic children. They love learning more about topics they are fascinated in. Some love books and reading. It is vital to respect their needs.

Many autistic children are extremely anxious about new experiences, and value information prior to a visit about what to expect, including photographs or video. There’s an example below. Autistic children often find change very difficult and need routine, for example they may feel unsafe if they cannot use the same computer on every visit. Respect autistic children’s need for personal space and their difficulties with distractions. Some museums have a quiet room for children who are feeling overwhelmed.

As crowds are very difficult for autistic children, several museums and other organisations offer early bird sessions, quiet days or special events specifically for them, examples below. It’s important in such actitivites to minimise visual clutter, bright lights and loud noises which can all be distracting or frightening.

I have found these websites, articles and blogs etc very useful: