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Library opens section for families with special needs kids

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Don Collins, center, welcomed about 50 people to an open house Tuesday evening at the Shelby County Public Library to dedicate a new section of some 150 books about special needs and disabilities. Collins is president of the ARC of Shelby County which donated the books.
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Books about special needs and disabilities in the new special section at the Shelby County Public Library are divided into catagories, such as “Parents” on the shelf below and “Other Disabilities” above.

By JOHN WALKER - jwalker@shelbynews.com

Families who have a child with autism or Down syndrome, teachers of special needs kids, and others now have a new resource for help.

Some 150 books on the topics of special needs and disabilities are now available in a special section created at the Shelby County Public Library.

A $2,500 donation by the ARC of Shelby County made the collection possible.

To celebrate, Don Collins, president of the local ARC, a group for people with developmental challenges, welcomed ARC members and others to an open house Tuesday evening at the library, 57 W. Broadway St.

Many local libraries have books on special needs, but they’re often mixed in with the rest of their books. To have an exclusive reference section is a big plus, Collins said.

“I can’t tell you how much we appreciate the library setting aside this space for us,” he said.

A long-time advocate for people with special needs, Collins recalled when his daughter, Vicki, was born in 1970 with Down syndrome. He and his wife, Shirley, went to the library to get information about their daughter’s condition.

“We found one book,” Collins told the crowd of about 60 people gathered for the open house.

To put together the special needs resource section at the library, the local ARC consulted with staff at the ARC of Indiana and other experts for recommendations about the most up-to-date books to include.

In response, the state ARC gave them 50 of the books in the collection, Collins said.

Located in the small reference room on the west side of the library, in the old section under the dome, the special needs collection is divided into a number of subsections such as “Aspergers,” “Aspergers and Autism” and “Down Syndrome.”

“There’s a series of books on each of the various disabilities,” said Collins.

And there will be more soon. Janet Wallace, director of the library, announced at the open house that there was an additional $150 available to purchase disability reference materials. 

The books are available to check out. For information, contact the library at 317-398-7121.

SENSES Gym to be appointment-only this summer

A sensory stimulation playroom for young children will take the summer off, except by appointment.

Holly Forville, who manages SENSES Gym, 1110 Amos Road, said at the Shelby County Public Library open house for a new special needs book collection that the gym will stop holding regular classes on June 1.

Attendance at the playroom slows down in the summer, so regular hours aren’t needed, she said.

SENSES will open if people contact her and make an appointment. Go to www.facebook.com/Sensesgym, or call her at 317-370-8238.

The gym will re-open for regular sessions on Sept. 1.

Forville said she’s excited about plans to move SENSES into the old Marsh building, 1015 E. State Road 44, when Shelbyville Central Schools opens a preschool there in 2019.

She and her father, Don Collins, co-founded SENSES in February 2016. Open to all kids ages 1-6, the playroom is especially helpful for children with sensory processing issues such as autism or Down syndrome.