Understanding and Assisting Library Patrons on the Autism Spectrum

Scheduled Dates
Course Details
Course Description

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is estimated to affect 1 in 44 children in the U.S. and to be present across racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. Librarians will benefit from learning about modifications that can enhance the library experience for individuals on the autism spectrum.

This workshop will provide librarians across settings with a greater understanding of ASD as well as strategies for communicating more effectively with such patrons. Librarians will also learn strategies to make library spaces more accessible, design programming, and build relationships with community partners to better serve this patron group.

Learning objectives for this session include
  1. Developing a better understanding of ASD across age groups.
  2. Improving interactions and communication with patrons with ASD.
  3. Effectively managing challenging behaviors associated with ASD.
  4. Designing library environments that are more welcoming and accessible for those on the spectrum.
  5. Building relationships with community resources to benefit patrons with ASD.
Session Information
Session Duration: 
This course consists of one 2-hour session.
Contact Hours: 
Instructor Information

Dawn Behrend portraitDawn Behrend is an instruction and outreach librarian at Lenoir-Rhyne University. Behrend serves as the library's liaison to the academic programs of business and economics, mathematics, computer science, human services, psychology and counseling. In this role, she provides instruction, research assistance and collection development to support these areas. In addition, she manages the Carl A. Rudisill Library's social media platforms and coordinates outreach events at the library. Prior to becoming an academic librarian, Behrend worked as a clinical psychologist and continues to work part-time in private practice providing psychological evaluations. Behrend's primary professional interest is in working with librarians to improve their awareness of the needs of patrons with a mental illness or neurodevelopmental disorder, namely Autism Spectrum Disorder, in order to provide equitable and inclusive access to library resources and services for this population. She offers online professional development trainings on these issues for Library Juice Academy and Amigos Library Services. Behrend has presented at several regional, state and national library conferences on these topics.