The Chapel Hill Public Library’s Neurodiversity and Nature initiative is providing neurodivergent youth and adults with sensory learning activities this summer.
The initiative, which launched in March, began when the library received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services in 2022. Now, the initiative connects the library and the community it serves with sensory-specific tools and activities.
This grant provided Chapel Hill Public Library with funding to create the sensory kits and implement sensory furniture and start a sensory garden, Hannah Olson, the library's marketing and communications coordinator, said.
“We have been getting good circulation on the kits, so people have been checking them out, using them, they’re excited about them,” she said.
The library held its first sensory storytime in June, which the library will continue to offer every month, Krystal Black, the library's youth and family outreach coordinator, said.
“I did get some very positive feedback from one of the families who stuck around to let me know that it was something that they really enjoyed,” she said. “They saw that their daughter had a good time and it was something they were going to come to as much as they could.”
Black said the library’s regular early literacy storytimes are very popular and they can sometimes be crowded, loud and chaotic.
“Families who have kids who are neurodivergent might not feel like that’s the best match for what they need,” she said.
Osly Galobardi, a local clinical mental health counselor, said a lot of neurodivergent people like to stim in overwhelming or overstimulating environments. She said stimming is a repetitive behavior that is usually self-soothing.