Berkshire Athenaeum Offers Resources for Children on the Autism Spectrum

The Berkshire Athenaeum is pleased to announce new resources and activities targeted to families with children on the autism spectrum.

The Children’s Library has a new collection of sensory tools, including fidget toys and related items, for play in the library. Fidget toys, shaped as small frogs, balls or other simple configurations can be calming and promote focus, decrease stress and increase tactile awareness. Soft and cuddly weighted plush snakes are filled with 4 pounds of beads and can be hung on a child’s shoulders or coiled in their lap, providing calming pressure.

Also targeted to families with children on the autism spectrum are monthly Sensory Story Times. Customized to the children’s needs, these programs include prompts to provide a tangible way for children to follow a story line and a structure that helps with transition from one activity to the next. Sensory Story Times for March are scheduled for 11 a.m. – noon on Tuesday, March 14 and Tuesday, March 21. No registration is required.

“We’re aware our community includes families with children on the spectrum. We’ve learned these families often don’t feel comfortable in a traditional library story time. This was a gap in our services, a need, and we wanted to create a welcoming space for these kids and their parents,” said Children’s Librarian Nan Pearson.

The library’s collection of sensory toys was purchased with funds provided by the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum, an all-volunteer group that supports programming for children and adults; a technology lending service; additional library materials; and a wide variety of library improvements. 

The Sensory Story Time is funded by a grant to the Athenaeum provided through the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

For more information, please contact Pearson at 413-499-9480, Ext. 203.