Date of Press Release:
Piscataway Public Library began offering a program called SNAP which stands for Special Needs Active Play, in March 2010. SNAP was started by a mom who wanted her autistic son to be able to attend library story times just for children with special needs. She spoke with libraries in nearby towns. Sayreville was the first to offer such a program and a librarian from Piscataway observed it. They offered playtime with special learning toys. At Piscataway, a librarian with a background in special education and teaching, offers learning centers, music activities, playtime and a short story time. All activities are very flexible and take into consideration the child’s abilities. It is offered once a month for an hour and a half. The program is for ages 3-8 with a parent or caregiver and siblings are also welcome. We usually have anywhere from 8-20 people.
Many parents are hesitant to bring their special needs children to a regular story time where the children are expected to be quiet or might be made fun of by other children. It is difficult for the children to focus and sit still for a long period of time. Also, the parents feel more comfortable with other parents in a similar situation. We are able to help the parents, the parents connect with each other and pass on information concerning websites, sports activities and other programs open to children with special needs.
We started Gaming for Kids with Special Needs in May 2010. This program was conceived in response to a parent with a deaf and autistic child who requested a gaming program designed just for kids with special needs. The program is constantly evaluated to ensure that it meets the needs of the families that participate and we play a variety of games to help the kids develop self-confidence, improve gross and fine motor skills and enhance communication skills. As an added benefit, teen volunteers assist with the program, learning basic sign language so they can communicate during game play. It is also held once a month for one hour and is for children in Grades Kindergarten and up.
The special needs programs offered by Piscataway Public Library attempt to fill a need in our community for acceptance, help and fun-filled activities for people often overlooked. It is wonderful to see hope, compassion, and friendships made, and most importantly, smiles on the children’s faces.