A Place to Belong: Supporting Neurodiversity and Mental Health in Your Library

By attending this 4 week asynchronous course you will leave with the knowledge and tools needed to provide programs that responsibly center mental health and neurodiversity.

Course Description: 

Mental health is important, but it is even more critical during a global pandemic. Teens deal with major life changes and tremendous stress. Autistic teens face additional challenges - many of which have been exacerbated by the effects of the pandemic. Our teens need support, now more than ever, and our libraries can serve as essential safe spaces. People are talking more about the importance of mental health, but how can we keep this important conversation going? How can we update our collections to better represent our teens’ experiences? How can our programming promote empathy and compassion among all library patrons?  In this course, two librarians will share insights from their own practices, plus a variety of resources that you can use to make your own library a better place for everyone.

Observable Objectives:

  1. Students will gain a better understanding of neurodiversity and mental health.

  2. Students will read about how stories can improve teens' mental health.

  3. Students will develop the confidence and ability to bring improved programming to their libraries.

  4. Students will discuss resources and programming ideas, and how they can be catered to the needs of their local community.

Instructors: 

Ashleigh Torres is a library branch supervisor with the Yolo County Library. She is at the joint-use Winters Community Library which is located on the campus of Winters High School. She is very passionate about library services for teens. She almost exclusively reads teen books and loves to talk about them just as much. She is the Northern California Representative for the California Library Association's Youth Services Interest Group.

Adriana White is an autistic librarian, former special education teacher, and children’s book writer. After being diagnosed with autism and anxiety in her 30s, Adriana now advocates for more inclusive schools and libraries. Her writing on neurodiversity and mental health in children’s books has appeared on KQED’s MindShift and We Need Diverse Books, and she advises educators and librarians about the importance of these books through workshops and presentations. Adriana has a Master’s in Education with a specialization in Special Education, and a Master’s in Library and Information Science with a certificate in Storytelling. She is a staff editor for the website A Novel Mind, and she was a 2021 recipient of the Walter Grant from We Need Diverse Books.