Advertisement

You can now borrow a sensory support kit at the Yellowknife Public Library

John Mutford, Yellowknife Public Library manager, said the kits are meant to hep neurodivergent people.  (Travis Burke/CBC News  - image credit)
John Mutford, Yellowknife Public Library manager, said the kits are meant to hep neurodivergent people. (Travis Burke/CBC News - image credit)

Special sensory kits to support neurodivergent people who want to browse the stacks or hang out among books, are now available at the Yellowknife Public Library.

The kits come as an effort to make the library more inclusive, and they contain items such as noise-cancelling headphones, sunglasses, a fidget spinner, a fleece blanket, and a teddy bear.

"These things would help people self-regulate and remain calm," said John Mutford, the Yellowknife Public Library manager. 

A neurodivergent person is someone whose brain processes information differently than those whose brains are considered more typical. The term includes people who have autism, ADHD and other conditions. 

The kits aren't available to be taken home, but people can sign them out at the library and use them in the space for up to three hours.

The sensory kits at the library have a number of different items to help people.
The sensory kits at the library have a number of different items to help people.

The sensory kits at the library have a number of different items to help people. (Submitted by John Mutford)

Sensory profiles

The library has two kits, both purchased from the non-profit Autism Canada.

Bruce Petherick, the autistic advocate with the organization, said the kits have a wide number of helpful tools. They are meant help meet the needs of people with different sensory profiles. Some people need more sensory input while others need less, he said.



He gave the example of how some people want to listen to loud music, while others need noise-cancelling headphones to tone things down.

A fidget spinner is included in the kit as well. The repetitive motion helps calm the brain. 

"It gives them control of a little bit of the environment and the control of the environment is really, really super important," Petherick said. 

"It's part of the different rewiring of the neurodivergent brain that we tend to need control in the environment so that we can predict what happens." 

Petherick said some potential things that could overwhelm a neurodivergent person at a library include people standing too close to each other and bright lights.

National uptake, local reception

Autism Canada is also running a program which involves training for libraries and community centres on how they can create inclusive sensory spaces. Libraries can also reach out to Autism Canada themselves to purchase the sensory kits. 

"I very much appreciate how much we have a large number of libraries across the country reaching out to us and we are so happy that people are actively trying to be more inclusive and I hope the rest of the the world also tries to be a little more inclusive as well," Petherick said.



Mutford, the library manager, said that people have responded positively on the library's social media to the new kits.

The kits haven't been signed out as of yet, but Mutford said he wants people to know they are available. 

"We just want to make sure that everybody feels included and that our space is more accessible for people," he said.