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Special Needs

GEPL Youth Department from the department entrance.The Glen Ellyn Public Library is a welcoming place for young people of all abilities. The library is currently expanding its services for youth with special needs and their families.

Visiting the Library

You can use the library’s Meet the Staff page as a tool to introduce Youth Department staff members to your child.

Download This Is My Library, a social story that can help prepare children for their visit to the library.

Sensory Awareness

Public spaces can be difficult for many children. Individuals with Autism (ASD) can have unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel. With Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), neurological impairments prevent the body from organizing and interpreting sensory information in a way that produces an appropriate response.

Our Sensory Box allows us to provide sensory accommodations to help everyone access the library’s space, programs, and services equally. The Sensory Box contains items for children and their caregivers to soothe or stimulate senses as needed. These tools can also be used to help focus and process stimuli. Items include noise cancelling headphones, a kaleidoscope, a visual timer, a fiber optic light, an interactive and sturdy book, a weighted blanket, and fidgets.

  • Noise cancelling headphones can cancel-out some of the sudden noises that can be overpowering for children. It can also reduce the amount of background noise.
  • Our fiber optic light can be used to stimulate touch. There has also been adequate research conducted displaying a link between the color of lights and a child’s mood. For example, blue can be calming.
  • Weighted blankets calm anxiety or restless movements, and they can ground the body while mimicking the feel of being hugged.
  • A visual timer can be helpful for children to transition from one activity to the next, and children/caregivers can decide whether children need to use sound to help transition.
  • Fidgets can help children channel energy, control emotions, and utilize critical thinking skills.

Library members can check out the Sensory Box at the Youth Desk and use it throughout the Youth Department or in a quiet space.

If you have questions or recommendations for additional adaptations, programs, or services please email our Early Literacy Librarian.

The Youth Department also offers a monthly Sensory Saturday program designed to engage your child’s senses with a variety of sensory art projects and sensory play. Sensory Saturday is an inclusive play group for children who receive therapy and is for kids from birth through 5 years of age.


The Youth Department has many great materials available for checkout! Ask staff about adapted books, Braille books, ebooks, and audiovisual materials. You can also check out this book list of resources for parents and teachers.