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Find Special Events for Special Needs Families this Fall at the Library Center

A child’s first trip to the library is a rite of passage that we celebrate with families. However, parents of children with special needs may avoid the library due to a child’s mobility or sensory issues – there are towering book shelves, lights, foreign noises and strangers.

A Library Center series this fall aims to help bridge that comfort gap. With partners Include Ozarks, we’ve planned four workshops for families of children with special needs, while providing parents and caregivers a place to learn, grow and advocate for their children. Child care will be provided. For details or to register, call 616-0554.

The series begins with Meet the Library Night at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, in the Story Hour Room. We will create a “sensory-safe” environment for all ages. We’ll lead small groups of families on a brief tour of the Children’s Department, highlighting all the services for them. Registration is ongoing.

Melanie Stinnett is excited about this session and the series, as executive director of Include Ozarks, which provides resources and educational opportunities for these families.

“This allows a child to come into the library in a much less stressful environment, and where parents know it’s a safe place and the staff there is ready for them,” says Stinnett. Include Ozarks began due to needs she saw in her private clinic. “It allows the family an opportunity to be part of the community like anybody else.”

The next day, Saturday, is Achieving Balance with a Special Needs Child with Dr. James Peterson from 9-11 a.m. in the auditorium. Registration is underway.

The series continues Oct. 21 with Self-Care for Parents of Special Needs Children, with family psychologist Dr. Tiffany Ruffin. Stinnett presents the Nov. 1 session, Picky Eaters and Problem Feeders.

“Special needs parents are often overwhelmed with information regarding care and treatment for their children,” says Library staffer Katie Hopkins. “These workshops give parents a place to go where they know that they are getting reputable information that they can trust.”

Kathleen O'Dell is community relations director for the Springfield-Greene County Library District. She can be reached at kathleeno@thelibrary.org.

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