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Mom says her autistic kids are facing ultimatum at public library

To The Editor,

My kids and I are regular clients at the Champlain Public Library. Both my kids and I have Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism.  My kids don’t like school so if they go to school I reward them with library time between 3 and 5 pm Monday to Friday.  My kids love the library especially the computers.  They love to play on Roblox. Every time they wake up, they ask me when is their library time.  They get to socialize and borrow books and that is great for them.

The problem is that my kids have a hard time to stay silent. Library staff complain that they can’t focus on their work because of the constant chattering of my kids. Apparently, clients also complained. Well . . . most kids and many clients are also loud.  The library responded by saying yes, but those other kids come once a week. You are here for hours. Library staff and I tell the kids to lower their voices to shush.  But after 15 minutes they are back at it. They are kids. They tried to change the kids’ computer stations to eliminate chattering.  Enforcing the silent rule.  Just before Christmas, we were threatened; one staff member said they had enough.  My 10- year-old son was so anxious for not being able to return to school that his anxiety made him throw up.  Staff keeps pointing out that kids chatter too much. Asperger’s people love libraries’ it’s almost a fact.

This morning. we received the ultimatum that library staff gives them one warning to shush to silent and after that, if caught again we can’t go back on the computers for the whole day. They said they were open for suggestions but I had none to offer as I was so angry at the moment.

My kids have autism. They get in their own bubble.  Yes, they have a hard time to whisper as their condition makes them want to cover with their voices other noises in the room.  They try so hard to be nice at the library.  They are already on their best behaviour when at the library as I go over rules at the library with them every time before we go.

So I live 200 meters from the Champlain Public Library but I might have to drive to Hawkesbury to receive services. Geez.

Please let me know if you have positive solutions or comments.

Thank you.

Melanie Villeneuve,

Mother of Alexie and Antoine

Melanie Villeneuve,
Vankleek Hill

Editor’s Note: The Review contacted Champlain Township head librarian Cynthia Martin, who said that she had met with Melanie Villeneuve Tuesday morning and wanted to find a way to make library-time work for everyone. Certain activities, like running up and down the stairs, are not permitted, due to safety issues, she said. Absolute silence is not an expectation at the library, which is host to story-time and other group activities, according to Martin. Inclusion is her aim and that means finding a solution that works for everyone, she said. 

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