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Westlake Porter Public Library has many picture book titles that address sensory issues, overwhelming situations, sensory processing disorder, or autism. Check out Samantha Cotterill’s Little Senses series and similar titles. According to the author’s website, “Little Senses books are created with love for any kid who sometimes feels anxious or overwhelmed, but especially for kids who are on the autism spectrum and/or have sensory issues.” In her author bio, Samantha Cotterill reveals she is “on the spectrum herself.” This led to her desire to make books in which kids see themselves but without labels or diagnoses. The Little Senses series is located in the Disability Resources Collection in the Youth Services Department.

cover of Nope. Never. Not for Me!

Nope. Never. Not For Me! is my personal favorite of the Little Senses collection. It’s about a child who loves dinosaurs, as witnessed by the dinosaur costume worn throughout the book. What this character doesn’t love, however, is broccoli. The protagonist is sensitive to broccoli’s look and touch. It’s ouchy. It’s lumpy. It’s scratchy. Mom doesn’t punish her child but instead encourages him to try. Does he like broccoli by the end of the story? He doesn’t, but that isn’t the point. The point is that by trying new foods he is helping himself without overwhelming himself. What does happen is the transformation from being overwhelmed by new foods to becoming a “try-ceratops.” The book gives solid parenting advice for approaching food with children who are not just picky but anxious and overwhelmed as well.

Titles Like Nope. Never. Not For Me!

cover of This Beach Is Loud!

This Beach is Loud! features a child who is very excited to visit the beach until he becomes overwhelmed by the experience of being at the beach. The beach is loud, as the title emphasizes. The sand is hot and gets everywhere, even on his toy shark!. In the midst of the heat, the sounds, and the sand, he is overloaded. Fortunately, the boy’s dad is prepared and instructs him: “Take a deep breath and give Sharkie a squeeze. Now tap your fingers and count to three.” Although the sounds threaten to totally overwhelm him, they continue counting and tapping until the boy feels better. The beach’s noise and other sensory obstacles may have been unexpected for the boy, but his dad’s preparedness helps him to feel more at ease and to enjoy the much anticipated day. There is a chart on the title page that shows parents how to break down new experiences into small steps for their children. The father’s 1-2-3 tap method of calming the boy can be repurposed for many potentially overwhelming situations.

Titles Like This Beach Is Loud!

cover of Can I Play Too?

There’s nothing so fun as playing trains with your friend, unless your friend fails to pay attention to your feelings. This is what happens in Can I Play Too? The main character is very excited by trains. He loves to play with his toy track. He knows a lot of facts about trains, making him quite the expert. However, his enthusiasm comes across as controlling and bossy to his friend, who puts up with his behavior until he cannot any longer, storming off. The boy’s mother uses his knowledge of train tracks and traffic lights to explain what happened with green lights, yellow lights, and red lights as metaphors for paying attention to a friend’s feelings. Luckily his friend is forgiving and eager to resume play. The protagonist uses the traffic light system and it works! Parents can explain this system or another like it to children who read this book, encouraging them to pay attention to other’s feelings and respond in turn. Note that there are free resources and printables to accompany this title on the author’s Resources page.

cover of It Was Supposed to Be Sunny

As the saying goes, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” That’s the lesson the protagonist in It Was Supposed to Be Sunny learns through the course of this book. When it begins to rain on her birthday, Laila is very distressed. She wants a sunny birthday! Her mother makes a list they work through together, with Laila realizing what she can change and what is beyond her control in terms of her birthday celebration. For example, she can ask that a “loud song” not be sung. She prefers to make her birthday wishes with a quiet wish jar. She prefers a celebration at home and not at a “loud place.” However, she cannot control the weather on the day of her birthday. This helps Laila later when another potentially disastrous cake issue occurs. Laila’s mother adjusts the birthday schedule, Laila has some quiet time with her support pet, Charlie, and her party is still fun and sparkly, exactly the way she likes it! This book expects a lot of its protagonist. Who wouldn’t have a meltdown over a destroyed birthday cake? If you can look past that plot device, there’s so much good advice for learning to pivot. And that’s a lesson everyone can benefit from. Note that there are free resources and printables to accompany this title on the author’s Resources page.

Titles Like It Was Supposed to Be Sunny

Natalie Bota

Miss Natalie is the Disability Resources Librarian at Westlake Porter Public Library. She enjoys working with patrons of all ages and can usually be found in the Youth Services Department or the Reading Garden. She enjoys reading picture books and poetry, baseball, writing, cooking, and travel. She loves spending time with her pets, family, and friends.