April was National Autism Awareness Month, but now that we are well in to May it is important to not forget how autism affects our communities and the teens we work with. Autism is a term used to describe a spectrum of brain development disorders, including PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified), Asperger’s Syndrome, Rett Syndrome and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder. One in 110 children in the United States is diagnosed with autism, making it one of the most prevalent childhood disorders. Based on the statistics, the chances are that at least one of the teens you interact with is affected by autism. ‘ What can we do as librarians to serve young adults with autism?

The most important thing to remember is that autism is a spectrum disorder, and no two young adults with autism will have identical needs.’  Like many librarian-patron interactions, it is sometimes most useful to ask the person or his or her caretaker, “Is there something I can help you with?” For some great ideas about how you can offer better services for patrons with autism, check out Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected. The organization has produced a series of customer service training videos that are worth watching if you are interested in learning more about libraries and how we can assist this underserved population.

About Rebekah Kamp

Rebekah works as the Youth Services Librarian at the Belgrade Community Library. She enjoys designing innovative programming for children and teens. When not at the library, Rebekah is an outdoor enthusiast who loves spending time with her children camping, hiking, and exploring in Montana.

One Thought on “Serving Teens with Autism

  1. Carrie Rogers-Whitehead on May 17, 2011 at 6:16 pm said:

    They just came out with new statistics for autism from a comprehensive study from both U.S. and South Korean researches. It’s in this week’s Time Magazine. They said there is a one in 38 prevalence instead of the 110. They noted that this is not because of more prevalence but because of wider diagnosis.

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