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Pelham library lending sensory kits to the autistic

Prepared by Autism Canada, kits include earplugs, tinted glasses
The Lincoln Pelham Public Library will begin offering sensory kits for patrons on the spectrum.

Everyone should feel welcome at the Lincoln Pelham Public Library (LPPL). That's one reason the library now has 10 new sensory support kits available to borrow, designed for people on the Autism Spectrum.

"The library is a good place to be, and we want everyone of all ages and abilities to feel like this is a comfortable space to visit," said Amy Guilmette, LPPL's Acting Chief Executive Officer. "We hope that these kits will help people be able to enjoy our library more."

LPPL joins the St. Catharines Library as one of the first libraries in the region to have these kits on hand. Autism Canada developed the kits, which include a pair of noise-reducing headphones, tinted sunglasses to manage visual sensitivity, and fidget toys, including a pop-it-square. The kits are helpful because the tactile and sensory items inside can comfort an autistic individual and support their efforts to self-regulate and remain calm in an emotional or stressful situation.

On its website, Autism Canada reported that offering sensory support to those on the Autism Spectrum when they are experiencing stress can help them avoid a sensory meltdown or a shutdown.

The Public Health Agency of Canada described Autism Spectrum Disorder as a lifelong neurodevelopmental condition. It can impact people differently, including sensory processing, social communication, the ability to carry out specific tasks, and emotional and behavioural regulation.

The arrival of the sensory kits is serendipitous as April is recognized as World Autism Awareness Month. The United Nations General Assembly declared April 2 as Autism Awareness Day in 2008 to increase understanding and acceptance of people with Autism. The Canadian Parliament passed the World Autism Awareness Day Act, recognizing April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day in 2012.

According to Autism Speaks Canada, Autism touches more than 70 million people on a global scale. One in 50 children and youth are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Canada, and this number continues to climb.

In addition to the sensory kits, Guilmette said LPPL offers a variety of materials and things to borrow beyond reading materials. The items to lend to library patrons include a metal detector, musical instruments, puzzles and board games.

The library will soon let library users borrow Roku devices to stream shows on AppleTV. Guilmette said the library will have 12 devices in the future.

"If it goes well, we will consider adding another platform in the future in terms of streaming."

Last year, the Lincoln Pelham Public Library had 200,000 visits. About 300,000 physical items and more than 90,000 electronic resources were borrowed.

For more information about the library and sensory kits, visit