Bress, Andrea. “Making Your School Library More Functional to Individuals with Autism.” Library Media Connection, 32 (Aug./Sep. 2013): 46-7.
Though not a research article, strictly speaking, this practitioner-oriented essay makes ample use of research on autism and library services for people with autism. This article is one of several dissemination activities that grew out of the recent PALS Project, a Florida State University (FSU) project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The principal investigator was Dr. Nancy Everhart, a professor in the FSU School of Information, and the co-principal investigator was Dr. Juliann Woods, a professor in the FSU School of Communication Science and Disorders and associate director for research to practice at the Autism Institute. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should acknowledge that Drs. Everhart and Woods and colleagues of mine; however, I was not involved in this project.) Andrea Bress was a student in the School of Communication Science and Disorders and a member of the PALS Project research team at the time this article was written. Three other members of the team were doctoral students Amelia Anderson and Abigail Delehanty and Lezlie Cline, project manager for the Florida Center for Interactive Media.
Bress’s article does not mention Project PALS specifically nor does it focus exclusively on young adults, but all of the information and advice provided certainly can apply to any young adult with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). She notes that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, one in every eighty-eight children is diagnosed with ASD, and she adds that libraries have the potential to be safe, comfortable places for individuals with ASD. In order for that to happen, librarians need to be aware of the kind of environment these individuals need in order to function best. Specifically, a quiet place with low lighting, good signage, accessible technology, and no clutter is an optimal environment. Routine is highly valued by individuals with ASD, so keeping materials, furniture, and technology in their regular, predictable locations is important. Because interacting with others can be stressful, making self-checkout kiosks available can help make borrowing materials more user-friendly.