9 February 2020
By Bryan Smyth
Parents and teachers often dread visiting the library with neurodiverse children. They fear the child may become agitated by lights, overwhelmed by different stimuli or just need some comfort. Cork County Council’s mobile and branch libraries have a solution.
As part of the Library Service’s commitment to inclusion, each library can now offer parents or teachers a “Comfort Kit” to help make their visit calmer and more enjoyable for all. The kit includes ear defenders, a weighted lap blanket, dark glasses and scented pencils as well as a fidget toy. The contents of the kit have been selected to soothe the senses and give the child a feeling of security. To avail of the kit, library visitors should simply request at their local branch or mobile library.
Many library branches also offer a small range of toys or games intended to help children’s motor or cognitive development. Reverse clocks are a feature in many branches, allowing members to time their visit, while helping children become more time aware and lessening the chance of a tearful end to their trip.
This equipment forms part of a strategy implemented by Cork County Council’s Library Service to support children and adults who have sensory or sensory related issues. Further plans for 2020 include offering workshops for parents, as well as making social stories available for every branch and mobile library. The Library Service is also exploring possibilities around creating a sensory space or wall in larger branches and trialling additional sensory toys and equipment. It is anticipated that children, and indeed adults, with sensory issues will enjoy an increasingly positive experience of libraries as a result.
Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr. Christopher O’Sullivan welcomed the initiative, highlighting
“Libraries are one of the most visible and important ways Cork County Council engages with communities. It is vitally important for communities that every possible obstacle to entry is challenged. Initiatives such as the “Comfort Kits” will make a huge difference for neurodiverse individuals and their families. Their inclusion and participation enriches the entire community.”
For further information check your local branch or mobile library in County Cork.