Autism Resources

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What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disability with signs typically appear during early childhood and affect a person’s ability to communicate, and interact with others. ASD is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum condition” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause of autism, but increased awareness, early diagnosis/intervention, and access to appropriate services/supports lead to significantly improved outcomes.

Some of the behaviors associated with autism include delayed learning of language; difficulty making eye contact or holding a conversation; difficulty with executive functioning, which relates to reasoning and planning; narrow, intense interests; poor motor skills and sensory sensitivities.  A person on the spectrum might exhibit many of these behaviors or just a few, and/or many others besides.

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Information About Autism

General Information

Autistic Self-Advocacy Network is run by and for autistic people.  ASAN seeks to advance the principles of the disability rights movement with regard to autism.  Among many other things, they provide information about autism, disability rights, and systems change to the public through a number of educational, cultural, and advocacy projects. 

Autism Society of Wisconsin has information about support groups, state resources for autism across the lifespan (very early to adult), information about conferences and special events, and more.

Autism Society of America is the parent organization of ASW, it includes background information, a searchable database of local resources, guides for living with autism, research, and more.

Autism Support Network includes information designed to assist families with initial diagnosis, day-to-day living, relationship and therapeutic strategies and the latest information.  Includes forums and a free support community, and also some advertising.

Make Friends with Autism is a project of the Children’s Specialized Hospital in New Jersey with the goal of increasing inclusion, understanding, support and appreciation of children and families with autism. There are some excellent videos discussing the challenges of going out in public, and ways for public places to make it easier, along with fact sheets, communication tools, and more.

Autism Internet Modules: Linking Research to Real Life. Requires sign-up, but free to use. Includes self-guided modules created by ASD experts, and they all contain some imbedded video, some case studies, and background information. This would be useful for librarians seeking background, parents, teachers, other professionals. Include modules on five major sections: Recognizing Autism, Autism and Home, Autism in the Classroom, Autism in the Workplace and Autism in the Community.

The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders. Center to promote the use of evidence-based practice for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders.  Includes a free online course about the foundations of Autism Spectrum Disorder as well as other resources

Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected, a project of the Scotch Plains and the Fanwood Memorial Public Libraries in New Jersey. This site is regularly updated with useful links, videos, book suggestions, and information specific to libraries.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has put together some webinars and other resources that are designed for schools, but are very relevant for libraries!

Autism and Homelessness Toolkit (pdf) Drawing on the expertise of people with lived experience, charities, professionals and academic researchers, this toolkit describes what autism is, how to recognise it, and how to work effectively with people who are known to be autistic or who staff think could be autistic.


Inclusive Services Training for Library Staff is an excellent resource with information about making programs and services inclusive for people with a variety of disabilities, but with special emphasis on people on the autism spectrum.  Includes self-guided training modules, videos, and other tools.

20 Ways to Adapt the Read-Aloud for kids on the spectrum from autism expert Paula Kluth. 

Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning is funded by the Office of Head Start and the Child Care Bureau to promote evidenced based practices to help teachers and parents with social emotional development of children through age five.  Look here for training modules, a book nook with book extension activities and more.

Tarheelreader has easy-to-read, accessible books that can be speech enabled, you can also create your own books for free.

Sensory Storytime Resources

Social Stories about the Library and Advertising

The Red Kite Project is a children’s theater designed specifically to be welcoming of children on the autism spectrum.  This site is a good model for ways to welcome families with social stories, information and FAQs.

An ALSC blog post about creating a social story for children coming to the library