Oftentimes getting out the door is a challenge for parents with a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), much less actually getting to and successfully enjoying an event. In a continued effort to make the Public Library, Albuquerque and Bernalillo County accessible to all, a number of branches are now offering Sensory Friendly Hour for families with special needs.
Sensory Friendly Hour is a special browsing time for individuals on the autism spectrum and for those who generally prefer a lower sensory environment. What does that mean? The hour begins one hour before the regular public hours resulting in much less noise and fewer visitors. The lights are also dimmed. Commotion and bright lights can at times lead to sensory overload for those with ASD. Special coloring sheets and other activities are also available.
"Providing a safe and accommodating space for everyone to enjoy our library is very important to us," said Mayor Richard Berry. "My hope with these new sensory friendly hours is that more people can visit their local public libraries to learn, grow and connect with the community around them."
ASD is a complex neurobiological disorder typically appearing during childhood and affecting a person's ability to communicate and interact with others. According to the national Autism Society, more than 3.5 million Americans live with ASD.
"We want to be sure that everyone feels welcome to the Public Library. We are continually improving access and services to meet the needs of all our customers," Dean Smith, director of the Public Library, said.
Sensory Friendly Hour is currently offered at five library branches:
-1st Saturday of the month - 9am | Tony Hillerman Library | 8205 Apache NE | 505-291-6264
-2nd Saturday of the month - 9am | San Pedro Library | 5600 Trumbull SE | 505-256-2067
-3rd Saturday of the month - 9am | North Valley Library | 7704-B 2nd St. NW | 505-897-8823
-4th Saturday of the month - 9am | Juan Tabo Library | 3407 Juan Tabo NE | 505-291-6260
-4th Wednesday of the month (bimonthly) - 9am | Alamosa Library | 6900 Gonzales SW | 505-836-0684
"Low sensory library times provide a library experience for children and families who might not otherwise be able to enjoy a visit to our very busy and active libraries. We are very grateful for the guidance we have received from local autism organizations in how to provide a low sensory experience," Smith said.
For a complete list of all library events, please visit abqlibrary.org.