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At Buddies, Books and Bubbles, children often serve as the most important teachers.
The event, typically held the last Wednesday of the month at the Delaware County District Library, 84 E. Winter St., started about a year ago as a collaborative effort between the library and the county’s Board of Developmental Disabilities.
While Buddies, Book and Bubbles is open to all children ages 5 and younger, board and library officials take steps to make the event friendly to kids with special needs.
Connie Pottle, youth services manager for the library, said the average “storytime” at the library can be overwhelming to some children with disabilities.
“The kids who come to this storytime, a lot of them have sensory issues and the music would be too loud for them,” she said.
Pottle said she also turns off auxiliary lights and reads at a gentle pace during the event to make sure every child feels comfortable. She also posts a visual schedule of activities -- from playing with bubbles to listening to stories told via flannel board -- to aid kids who “have trouble with transitions.”
Bethany Mirka, a family liaison with the board, said it can be difficult to find “inclusive” events aimed at children with and without special needs.
“It’s nice that they can play alongside one another and the focus is not on a disability or if you do or don’t have one,” she said.
While Pottle acts as the main storyteller and three staff members with the board typically attend, Mirka said the children also learn from one another.
″(Children without special needs) help demonstrate a lot of social behaviors and expectations, but then, likewise, they’re learning from children with special needs,” she said.
Pottle said it’s not just children who have benefited from the events. She said one mother of a child with special needs attended without realizing Board of Developmental Disabilities staff members would be there.
“The mom really had no idea where to go or what to do, but one of the (staff members) from the board talked to her during storytime and got her hooked up with services she really needed that she just didn’t know about,” she said.
Mirka said feedback from parents has been positive.
“We have families that continue to come back every time,” she said. “I think that’s the best thing they can tell you.”
Pottle said she and Mirka began planning the events after meeting at the county’s Family and Children First Council, a group aimed at encouraging collaboration among local agencies that serve children. She said the event wouldn’t be as successful without the partnership between the two groups.
While a patron has requested the event expand to the library system’s Powell branch, Pottle said space and staffing considerations have limited it to the Main Library so far. She said growing the program remains a possibility.
“We’d love to if we could make it work,” she said.
Pottle said the library will not host Buddies, Books and Bubbles in December. The event is expected to return in January.
Schedules of events at the library system’s branches are published regularly in ThisWeek Delaware News or can be viewed at delawarelibrary.org/ event.
This article has been reproduced for educational purposes only and appeared in This Week Community News. The original story can be found at: http://www.thisweeknews.com/news/20171201/librarys-program-reaches-kids-with-without-special-needs
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