DQSH for Kids with Autism


Saturday, May 18
11:15 AM - 12:15 PM
NYPL 53rd Street Branch Library
18 West 53rd Street
Registration is full.

What is Drag Queen Story Hour?

Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) is exactly as awesome as it sounds: fabulous drag queens reading picture books to children. It was conceived in San Francisco by RADAR Productions, and soon spread to New York City. DQSH captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models.

But in its first year in my city, I didn't take my own kids to a single event. I knew my young twin boys, who both have autism, would be overwhelmed by the huge crowds, have difficulty meeting other people's behavioral expectations, and wouldn't connect with many of the books.

When I reached out to DQSH about my concerns, they set to work on collaborating with me and the NYPL on how to curate events that work for children with special needs like autism.

DQSH for Kids with Autism

Children with disabilities are welcome at any DQSH event, but DQSH for Kids With Autism & Other Special Needs has the needs of children with ASD and other special needs in mind by design.

Here is what we mean by that:

  • We choose books that work better for kids with autism and similar disabilities, and we let you know what we are reading in advance so you can practice those exact books with your child if you wish.

  • We limit attendance. 12 families maximum may RSVP.

  • We begin fairly promptly (within 5-10 minutes of scheduled time) and ask people to try hard to be on time since it's hard for kids to wait and hard for kids to be late -- a tough balance. If your child has to wait (no more than 10 minutes), there will things to do (look at books, coloring materials, etc.), including checking out an on-theme sensory bin.

  • We incorporate music, movement, tactile, and sensory elements as much as possible to provide a multi-sensory experience.

  • We use visual schedules so that transitions are predictable.

  • We provide seating options for children (floor, chair, table, cushions when available).

  • We don't shush kids or require them to sit (but, of course, parents may decide what is appropriate for their child and follow any behavior plan they choose!). If a child is having a hard time, including if they are having a tantrum, no one will ask you to leave.

  • We welcome any child with special needs who will enjoy these events. Older children are very welcome. (But keep in mind that because these events have a range of ages, it is important for all children to be well attended by adults to keep everyone safe.)

  • We provide detailed, event-specific social stories for kids to read in advance.

If you have further questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me via email at mamabibliosoph[at]gmail[dot]com.