Libraries host sensory-friendly hour
Published: 13 October 2022
Eurobodalla’s libraries are offering an extra level of comfort for people with heightened sensory needs.
Once a month, library staff dim the lights, turn off their scanner “beeps” and minimise noise and distractions throughout the library.
Resident Leo Degraaf has a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and visited Moruya Library during sensory-friendly hour recently.
Leo’s dad, Martin, loved the initiative and said a visit to the library was another activity they can engage and take part in.
“Services like this make it a lot easier for us,” he said.
“It also creates awareness for other people in the community to be patient and understanding.”
Local occupational therapist Gabbie Johnson said neurodevelopment conditions like Autism, can vary in different people.
“People have differences in their sensory processing capacities and can face a lot of challenges,” Ms Johnson said.
“For example, lights can be extremely overwhelming, bright, and painful for some people’s eyes.
“There’s also people like Leo who are sensitive to noise, which is why he wears headphones all the time.”
Walking into a busy room of people can be very uncomfortable for people on the autism spectrum, Ms Johnson says.
“They have trouble deciphering noise and listening in busy environments,” she said.
Ms Johnson said sensory hour was not only great for people with neurodivergence like Autism or ADHD, but mental health conditions too.
“It’s less overwhelming; people with chronic anxiety appreciate coming into a space that’s less busy,” she said.
“It’s nice to know there’s a guaranteed safe time to visit without any ruckus.”
Eurobodalla Libraries coordinator Samantha Fenton said the shire’s libraries should be safe and welcoming spaces for all members of the community.
“We are pleased to offer regular sensory hours where people can visit, borrow, use our sensory-friendly equipment, or just relax in the library space,” Ms Fenton said.
Sensory-friendly hour was a regular monthly time for Narooma, Moruya and Batemans Bay libraries to be at their quietest.
“There’s lots of different events happening at the libraries and it can get busy, especially around children’s story time,” she said.
“By offering these designated quieter times, we ensure our spaces are calm and catering to a range of customer needs.”
Sensory-friendly hours are:
- Narooma Library – from 4-5pm on the second Tuesday of each month.
- Moruya Library – from 9-10am on the first Wednesday of each month.
- Batemans Bay – from 9-10am on the third Thursday of each month.
Sensory-friendly hour was adopted in line with Council’s Disability Inclusion Action Plan.
If you have feedback or ideas to share in making the Eurobodalla shire more inclusive, contact Samantha Fenton:
P: 4474 7435
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