February 12, 2014 - Judging by the huge smile on Brendan Scovic's face, the Oxford Public Library's new Literacy and Special Needs Collection and revamped Play 'n' Learn Zone are a big hit with the 8-year-old.
The Clear Lake Elementary second-grader had a ball playing with the new educational toys during the library's open house Saturday afternoon.
"I like that they keep catering to the kids and trying to make it the best place for them," said Brendan's mother, Beth Scovic, of Oxford.
The Literacy and Special Needs Collection is a combination of toys, games, flashcards, story boxes and other learning materials that can be used to develop and enhance skills such as auditory, social, visual, language, fine and gross motor, tactile and thinking.
The Play 'n' Learn Zone is an area within the youth department where children can play with a wide range of educational toys.
Everything was purchased using a $14,000 contribution from an anonymous donor.
"There's a lot of new items (Brendan) can play with and explore with to help him find new interests," Beth said. "It gives him more variety than what we can offer at our house."
Brendan is exactly the type of child the library is hoping to reach out to and help with these new amenities.
He has apraxia and cognitive impairment.
Apraxia is a motor planning disorder that results in a person's inability to carry out learned, purposeful movements, despite possessing the desire and physical capability to perform them.
In Brendan's case, he has difficulty with his speech, fine motor skills and gross motor skills. He communicates primarily through sign language, gestures and sounds.
"He has a communication device that we call his talker. He can push the buttons and make sentences," Beth explained. "He just doesn't use it as much when he's playing. He uses it a lot in school or if he's trying to communicate with somebody he doesn't know very well. But people who know him figure out what he's saying pretty well."
Brendan more than makes up for his limitations by being a very confident and sociable little boy. Because of this, his mother has no doubt he'll be able to do whatever he sets his mind to in life. "I don't worry about his adulthood," she said.
Beyond aiding her son's development, Beth sees these new additions to the library as a way to give Brendan "some freedom."
"He can be independent," she explained. "I don't have to worry about hovering over him every second. I know he's in a safe environment where he can do things on his own. That's good for him."
"He feels like this is his place. He has a sense of ownership when we come to the library," Beth added. "It really is touching to me that (the library) is accepting of all kids and that they're trying to make sure that everybody has a place that belongs to them."
Beth said it's important to remember that "special needs kids can experience things just like all the other kids."
She's grateful to the library for making it so her son "can have that same experience that everybody else can have."
"This is his favorite place," said Beth as a nearby Brendan eagerly searched through books about transportation. "He knows where everything is that he likes."
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.