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Chapel Hill, NC: Public library "creates inclusive, adaptive spaces" for "neurodivergent"

July 10, 2023, University of NC, Chapel Hill, Daily Tar Heel: Chapel Hill Public Library's Neurodiversity and Nature initiative creates inclusive, adaptive spaces
The Chapel Hill Public Library’s Neurodiversity and Nature initiative is providing neurodivergent youth and adults with sensory learning activities this summer.

The initiative, which launched in March, began when the library received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services in 2022. Now, the initiative connects the library and the community it serves with sensory-specific tools and activities.

This grant provided Chapel Hill Public Library with funding to create the sensory kits and implement sensory furniture and start a sensory garden, Hannah Olson, the library's marketing and communications coordinator, said.

We have been getting good circulation on the kits, so people have been checking them out, using them, they’re excited about them,” she said.

The library held its first sensory storytime in June, which the library will continue to offer every month, Krystal Black, the library's youth and family outreach coordinator, said….

“Families who have kids who are neurodivergent might not feel like that’s the best match for what they need,” she said.

Osly Galobardi, a local clinical mental health counselor, said a lot of neurodivergent people like to stim in overwhelming or overstimulating environments. She said stimming is a repetitive behavior that is usually self-soothing….

She said sensory activities like the library sensory kits, are healthy activities for neurodivergent children to use to be more stimulated and prevent them from using maladaptive forms of stimming such as skin picking or self-harm. …

Black said it’s important to get input from the neurodivergent community when creating initiatives like Neurodiversity and Nature.

“We did work with a number of folks on the sensory kits, specifically the youth and family sensory kits,” she said. “We worked with Autism Society of North Carolina and we also worked with someone at UNC who works in the special education field.”…

“We really want everyone to feel welcome when they come into the library because we believe there is something for everyone here,” she said.


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