top of page

Graham County, AZ: Public library accommodates kids with autism

Feb 5, 2022, Eastern Arizona Courier: 'Not a quiet library': They're loud in support of special-needs kids

When Christabelle Cuevas’ son Raiden first began showing signs of autism as young as a year old, she felt lost. “I could tell he was different pretty early on,” she said. “He was my second child. He would have episodes, he struggled, it felt like nothing I was doing could help.” Living in a region where resources for mental health and learning disabilities are scarce presented a challenge, too, she said. “We had to go all the way to Phoenix to see a doctor,” Cuevas said. “Even after we got the diagnosis that he was on the spectrum, we still faced hurdles to get coverage.”… Sometimes, it takes a network – which is what Safford City-Graham County Library staff hope to build with their launch of the “Super Hero Us” program. “A lot of people assume that libraries are quiet and that maybe it isn’t a good idea to bring a child with autism into a quiet space,” said Lesley Talley, a library supervisor. “We are not a quiet library. We want to make this an inclusive space for everyone.” Cuevas, who has consulted with library staff for the program, says it’s common for parents of children on the spectrum to feel stigmatized in public spaces. “Not only do we want this to be a place for children with special needs to learn and explore, we want this to be a space where parents and families can come and not feel judged,” Cuevas said. “As a parent, you try to do what’s best for your child, and you feel judged by people telling you how to handle your child.” Super Hero Us” will feature a calming space, an emotion program that teaches how to best identify and express emotions, curriculum and books tailored for children with special needs, in pre-school and elementary school. Super Hero Us is designed to adapt to the needs of the families who join, Talley says. Since the program is the first of its kind in the county, organizers want feedback on what families would like to see. “Super Hero Us” organizers will host an open house on Saturday, Feb. 12, from 10 a.m. to noon to welcome families seeking more information on the program. Safford City-Graham County Library is closed on Saturdays but the event was planned for off-hours to encourage turnout….


bottom of page