Tag archives: autism

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Supporting children with learning difficulties in museums and libraries – useful websites, blogs, case studies and videos

ss GBI loved giving training on special educational needs at the fabulous ss Great Britain earlier this week. I give lots of courses on supporting children with learning difficulties for people working in museums and other cultural and heritage organisations, and lots for library staff too. It’s one of my favourite (and most frequently requested) training topics. I feel very passionate about inclusive provision.

I have found the following websites, blogs, case studies and videos useful and illuminating, and it occurs to me that others might too.

ABC of Working with Schools: Special Educational Needs
Asperger, Heritage and Archaeodeath
Astro Plane Force
Autism-Friendly Game Masters
Autism-Friendly Libraries
Autism in Museums
Autism in the Museum
Bag Books in Kent
Chatterbooks for Children with Dyslexia
Dimensions Autism Friendly Libraries Training Video for Library Staff
Disability Co-operative Network for Museums
Engaging Children with Special Educational Needs in Creative Experiences and Art 
Five Things I’ve Learnt About Accessibility
Going to a Museum
How Can Your Museum Better Welcome Families and Young People with Autism?
How Heritage Embraces Autism
Inclusive Galleries and Museums for Visitors with Special Needs
Kent Dyslexia Friendly Libraries
KidsHub Library Sessions
Making Museums Autism Friendly
Manchester Art Gallery Open Doors
Museum of Childhood Quiet Days
Museum of Childhood Visiting with an Autistic Child
Orleans House Gallery Octagon Club
Secret Museum: Film Production with Autistic Young People
See Dyslexia Differently
Sensitive Storytimes
Supporting Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs
Tom’s Tall Ship of Stories
Top 5 Autism Tips for Professionals: Autism-Friendly Museums
Working with Special Needs in an Art Gallery

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:

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Growing Children – Autism

BBC4’s new Growing Children series explores how three developmental disorders, autism, OCD and dyslexia, affect child development. Last night child psychologist Laverne Antrobus looked at the different ways that autistic children’s brains work compared to neurotypical children, and latest research. We were introduced to several children and young people with autism, and saw its impact on them and their families.

The difficulties most autistic people find with everyday life and social interaction were graphically illustrated. 15 year-old Tony spends as much time as he can in front of a computer; 4 year-old Zane is terrified by all the other children at his school; at 6, Jake struggles to make sense of other people, and the stress of trying to be normal during the school day leads to explosions once he gets home.

Changes in routine are a major problem for autistic children. Tony’s (wonderful) mother has spent months acclimatising him to a move into residential accommodation. Sensory overload is another huge issue. The sound of supermarket fridges agonises Tony; Zane finds the other school children too loud. The repetitive behaviour of many autistic children may be a way of dealing with stress and uncertainty.

Autistic people do not see the world as others do. Nuance and metaphor are often incomprehensible, as university student Michael explains. He has problems too understanding other people’s thoughts and emotions. Michael has now learnt how to play to his strengths. His logical thinking, typical of people with Asperger’s, is an asset in physics, but was far from it in his English GCSE.

There is a very interesting comment stream about the programme on the Talk about Autism website.

I give courses on working with children with special needs in museums, libraries and archives. People in these sectors may be interested in these autism related case studies: Across the Board and the Autistic Spectrum Disorder Pathfinder Museum Club.