Ann Arbor animal shelter launches storytime for children with autism

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Animals at the Humane Society of Huron Valley are making storytime special for Tree Town tots with autism.

The nonprofit organization has retooled its Little Paws Story Time events to be more comfortable for those considered neurodivergent or on the autism spectrum.

“We’ve offered our Little Paws Story Time for several years, but we know some children struggle with sitting still for longer stories, or feel overwhelmed by bright lights or crowded spaces,” said HSHV’s Humane Education ManagerJessie Hitt in a release. “So we’ve started ‘Sensory Story Time’ to offer a welcoming space for neurodivergent and autistic children and their families.”

The new story-based events are will take place on select Tuesday mornings at HSHV’s Education Center on 3100 Cherry Hill Rd. They are intended for children ages 2-5 but all ages are welcome.

Young participants can interact with stories, fingerplays and adoptable animals. Modifications have been made to the sensory events including low lighting, more space for little ones who need to move around, and multi-sensory play activities, HSHV said.

"Sensory Story Time" takes place on select Tuesdays at the Humane Society of Huron Valley. (Humane Society of Huron Valley)

“Sensory Story Time” will be held between 10:30-11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 23 and Tuesday, Dec. 14.

Each session costs $5 per child and is limited to 8 children, each with one accompanying adult.

Preregistration is required. Learn more here.

“We don’t want anyone to feel discouraged from participating in story time because they were worried their child may not ‘fit in,’” Hitt said. “There’s room for everyone who loves animals here, and the unconditionally-loving animals wholeheartedly agree.”

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Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.