Special Needs Library Programs SNAP (Special Needs Active Play) short story time session simple craft (optional) period of unstructured play socializing time for the children and adults Story Time for Special Needs Children Yoga for Children with Special Needs
Trends and Statistics Number of New Jersey Autism Cases (ages 6-22 years): 2,378 in 1999 vs. 10,783 in 2009: 78% (1999-2009) (Source: Individuals with Disabilities Act Data) Estimated ASD* Prevalence Rate in 2006: The average ASD prevalence was 8 per 1,000 8-year-olds in 2004 and 9 per 1,000 8-year-olds in 2006 in several areas of the U.S. That’s about 1 in 110 children. [* Autism Spectrum Disorder] (Source: Center for Disease Control & Prevention) Estimated Prevalence Rate of parent-reported ADHD among children aged 4-17 years in 2007 in the U.S.: 2009: 9.5% (representing 5.4 million children) 2003: 7.2% (representing 4.4 million children) (Source: Center for Disease Control & Prevention)
Benefits of Gaming Video, board, card and computer games can build and enhance a variety of important skills: Educational: Sorting, counting, pattern recognition, reading Cognitive: Critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills Literacy(text and visual): Reading, comprehension, writing, interpreting images Social Skills: Turn-taking, sharing, cooperating, learning social cues Physical: Hand-eye coordination, gross/fine motor skills, exercise
Games can teach specific skills in spatial visualization or mathematics
Games can help develop skills in inductive discovery, problem-solving through trial-and-error learning, and the ability to understand, manipulate, and control visual events on screen
Games involve a form of literacy that involves information processing, pattern recognition, multi-tasking, physical coordination, and other cognitive skills that are necessary and valued skills in society
Source: The Effects of Video Games on Children: The Myth Unmasked by Barrie Gunter (1998)
Social Value of (Board) Games Gaming provides children with a natural opportunity to: Practice their social skills Observe how other kids use same skills Improve conversation skills Initiate and maintain interactions Accept “no” responses Share and cooperate with others Solve problems effectively Take turns and practice good sportsmanship Learn cultural roles about social proximity and intrusion Source: Autism Encyclopedia: The Complete Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorders by E. Amanda Boutot, Matt Tincani, Ph.D. (2009)
Games of all types can… Enhance players’ self-esteem from mastery of games Promote reading, literacy, writing, and creativity Develop critical thinking skills valued in the workplace Increase concentration and attention span Promote hand-eye coordination, gross/fine motor skills Engage full range of sensory and motor cortices Provide kids with fun, exciting, new experiences
Program in Action: Recipe for Success Combine Key Ingredients and Mix Well Teen / Peer Volunteers Local High School Key Club Members Teen Advisory Board (TAB) National Honor Society Kids in Grades 3 and Up Welcome all kids with special needs Open to siblings and non-disabled kids Parents must accompany kids < 13 years old Variety of Games (video/board/card/ping pong) Short games with a quick turn-over Multi-player video games (2-4 players) Board & card games (2 or more players) Games ranging in skill level (basic to challenging)
Program in Action: Recipe for Success Games build social and developmental skills…
Getting Started Getting the Equipment: Assess community interest via an Exploratory Survey Solicit Grants & Donationsfor Gaming and Console Equipment Present a proposal to the Friends of the Library for funds Access our Mini Toolkit for more resources to get started Getting the Games: Visit 8bitlibrary.com for game recommendations Let kids share their favorite games (more variety) Select games that enhance different skills: Educational Cognitive Literacy Physical Social (Blue Text are clickable links)
Practical Advice & Tips Establish simple, clear rules up front Solicit kids for suggestions for rules Prominently display a sign with rules Use a white board to list game choices Have kids play in order of sign-ups Compliment kids for a job well-done Seat parents near video games for supervision (Blue Text are clickable links)
Practical Advice & Tips Assign teens to work in teams by game type Assign team leaders to monitor each group Teens should keep kids engaged at all times Teens are role models--lead by demonstrating Open the program to children of all abilities Check for food allergies if offering snacks Enforce consistent rules and expectations
Distribute Monthly Gaming Flyer for Kids Gaming Programs Include program informationfor all students SEPA (Special Ed Parents Association) Director of Pupil Services School Principals School Counselors Elementary School /Special Ed Teachers Special Needs Active Play (SNAP) Local cable station and township newsletter Local Health and Support Agencies (Autism, ADHD) Social Media (post on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.) (Blue Text are clickable links)
Summary of Benefits Teens acquire valuable leadership experience Teens gain well-deserved community service hours Kids have an opportunity to develop valuable skills Kids can meet other kids with similar interests Kids feel welcome at the library without feeling different Parents can meet and form a social/support network Libraries connect with a typically underserved population Excellent return-on-investment in more ways than one!! Everyone has fun and program is a win-win for all!!
Participant Feedback “I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the gaming sessions that you hold for special education children. Joey loves coming to the sessions because he has made many friends there and tells me that he feels safe. No one is going to make fun of him or tell him he is not good enough. The student volunteers are great because it gives me a break and enables me to network with other special education parents. This is very useful because you can find out names of professionals or answers to school or home problems.
Special education students need a lot of practice in social situations and this is not always possible in school or other general education groups. Many times these students are shunned or bullied. They tend to not want to join general education groups for these same reasons. Our children can interact with each other and don't have to try and "fit in". They are all the same. They are not made to feel different. My son always feels comfortable at these sessions.
As a parent of a special education child, I hope that these programs continue and will be expanded to other libraries. I know that parents are searching for programs just like this, but most times you have to go to private programs that are not very affordable.
Again, thank you so much for thinking of our children. Too many people close their eyes and look the other way.” -- Debbie C.
Participant Feedback “One thing I have gotten to enjoy more is the teen volunteers. The teen or junior high peer helpers that come are a huge help. My son, at 10, is still working on preschool board games. When we play those games, I don’t have to be the other player and be his role model at the same time. The helpers are the closest thing to same age peer role models [that] my son has, since at school he is still working mostly with adults. The teens are AMAZING play models for the kids- it is such an opportunity that so many special needs kids don't have. Especially those with no siblings- or with younger siblings, as these are the families most likely to not have those natural practice opportunities available. (Those families with other siblings generally find their social networks through their other children.) Almost all activities for children with special needs are outside of our town, so the kids don’t see each other in the neighborhood school and the likelihood of forming lasting friendships is difficult. I am so thankful for this program because it is something Nate can be included in where being different doesn’t make a difference. Of course, there are still those games the other kids want to play that he can’t due to the fine motor skills required or to not knowing the objective of the game. But thanks to the program facilitator, he gets his turn playing Wii Sports or other simpler games that the kids can enjoy just as much.” -- Cris M.
Participant Feedback “Kenny is learning to share and take turns. He is also learning how to take instruction from peers and learning how to give instructions to [help] others. Kenny enjoys coming to this program at the library and feels like he really fits in without feeling different.” -- Deb H. “Shamu, my son, enjoys the gaming program at the library. The gaming program is a fun way for children to interact with other children and teenagers. Teenage volunteers make the program more interacting and lively for the children. My son also likes the treats they provide during the program. The program should be held more frequently than once a month.” -- Chetna S. “The Special Needs Gaming Program has been an immense blessing for all of my children that have been attending these past few months. This type of program helps benefit this population in attaining the skills that are required in society that are often taken for granted. What I mean by this is that taking turns is a skill that our kids need to master in life and this is a skill that is hard to teach if there is just 1 kid but if you're in a gaming situation then they have to sign up for the game as well as wait patiently for their turn to come up.” -- Anita S.
Webliography To learn more about ASD’s and ADHD: Autism Spectrum Disorders (Centers for Disease Prevention & Control) http://tinyurl.com/m979ft Autism Fact Sheet (National Institutes of Health) http://tinyurl.com/32wt3b Autism Spectrum Disorders (U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services) http://tinyurl.com/3f9wlk6 Autism Society of America http://www.autism-society.org Autism Speaks http://www.autismspeaks.org Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CDC) http://tinyurl.com/5sb7e3w Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (NIMH) http://tinyurl.com/asvh7f For Game Recommendations and Gaming Reviews: 8bitlibrary.com (for gaming reviews) http://tinyurl.com/6y69fml GamerDad.comhttp://www.gamingwithchildren.com/ Commonsense Mediahttp://www.commonsensemedia.org/ What They Play http://www.whattheyplay.com/ Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) http://www.esrb.org/ Health Games Research http://www.healthgamesresearch.org/ Resources To Help You Get Started: Ratedforeveryone Mini Toolkit http://tinyurl.com/3rsg5rx