The ENABLED Librarian: April/May 2018

  May 01, 2018 |    Dr. Ruth V. Small, Ph.D., Director, Project ENABLE

Let's start this blog post with some questions. Do you know the answers?

  1. What does it mean to be a "spectrum disorder"?

  2. What type of disorder is autism?

  3. Can autism be caused by a child having an unloving mother?

(See the answers to these questions at the end of this post.)

The Project ENABLE team is very excited that our newest training module, Module 6: "Targeting Autism in Libraries," funded by a Laura Bush 21stCentury Librarian grant awarded to the Illinois State Library (ISL), soon will be completed and made public. We have been honored to be a partner with ISL and Dominican University in this project.

We are currently in the pilot test stage in which librarians from school, public and academic libraries are reviewing Module 6 for us. We will use the feedback they provide to make final revisions and improvements to the module before it is officially launched in June 2018.

When you first see Module 6, you will recognize that it has some important differences from the previous five Project ENABLE modules. First of all, Module 6 might be considered a mega-module. Module 6 contains an introduction and seven major topics, each comprised of several sub-topics. Those seven topics are: (1) What is Autism? (2) Diagnosis and Characteristics of Autism; (3) Autism Interventions; (4) Creating an Autism-Friendly Library; (5) Autism-Friendly Library and Information Programs, Services and Resources; (6) Partnering with the Greater Community to Support Children and Adults with Autism; and (7) Library Support and Opportunities: Employment of People on the Spectrum.

Each of the Module 6 topics is, in itself, similar in length and organization to the other modules in Project ENABLE. As such, the first five modules may be considered broader and more general in approach and content, while Module 6 is much more specific and detailed.

Another difference between Module 6 and the previous five modules is that each of the seven topics in Module 6 has its own quiz, where the others have a quiz at the end of each total module. Like the other modules, Module 6 begins with a set of learning objectives, contains content reinforced and supported by videos, web links, and other media, and interactive exercises, and ends with a summary, references for that topic, and the quiz.

Another change to the Project ENABLE site as a result of the Targeting Autism project is that we have created a searchable database of more than 1000 disabilities resources (with almost 600 on autism alone). You can search the database by one or more of these search categories: specific types of disabilities, intended user audience, specific

author, title, year of creation/publication and format, and/or keyword query. For example, you're an elementary school librarian and you discover that there are three new first graders who are on the spectrum. You want to find books that you can use to introduce students in the youngest grades to the concepts of autism and what it means to have autism so they can better understand some of the behaviors of their new classmates. A search by autism spectrum disorder (type of disability), preK-grade 2 (intended user audience), and book (format) yielded 76 annotated hits, including many picture books and some nonfiction. We hope that this resource will be highly useful to librarians who work with very young students.

Be sure to watch for announcements on a variety of listservs and in professional organization newsletters about the release of the "Targeting Autism in Libraries" module in Project ENABLE.

Now, check your answers to our three questions using the explanations below.


  1. Being a spectrum disordermeans the condition can present in a variety of different ways, supporting the well-known statement by Dr. Stephen Shore, professor at Adelphi University: "If you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism."

  2. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder.

  3. The definitive causes of autism have not been identified but research has supported the theory that both genetic and environmental factors can increase a person's risk for ASD. Research has also disproven the theory that unloving mothers cause their children to have autism (unfortunately, this theory caused untold anguish and pain to many mothers of children with autism).

All of this information and much, much more can be found in Module 6: Targeting Autism in Libraries.

See you next time!


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