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Champlain Library: an inclusive place

To The Editor,

First off, let me say : Asperger’s Syndrome is not a “Get out of jail free card.” There are many people of all ages who not only go to the Champlain Library but function in the world as a whole.

As a long-term community member and parent of two children with autism, I am appalled that in last week’s letter, Asperger’s Syndrome was used as an attack against the library. I have asked to remain anonymous as my children aren’t known in the community for having autism and I would like to keep it that way. They are just normal kids who have to work a bit harder.

Yes, people with Asperger’s enjoy the library; no, it’s not a reason for that person to be loud, chatty or unsafe. If these behaviors are present and are disruptive to staff or to other patrons it is completely understandable that you are asked to change said behaviour. That being said, it is also not the staff’s job to babysit your children and remind them to follow the rules, especially if you’re in attendance daily. That is the job of the parent. If the children are chatty, perhaps sitting with them and reminding them yourself would be a better option and a less problematic one.

I have been attending Champlain Library since I was a child, and I have been bringing my children with autism to the library for 14 or more years. I have only once had to remove one of my children from the library, and I did it myself because I knew it was a – disturbing to others and b – dangerous. Meltdowns happen. Everyone in the world realizes that sometimes a situation is overwhelming and not everyone has the tools to handle it, but as a parent of a child having a meltdown, you should be removing the child from the situation, even if it takes away from the other child. Step outside, take a walk. Try again later.

Champlain Library is a welcoming safe space; people are greeted with a smile. People of all walks of life. People with walking aids, people with motorized carts, people with autism. Everyone is welcome, but everyone is expected to follow the same set of rules regardless of what the diagnosis is. In your letter you pointed out that “other children chatter and run about”. Most patrons with children are there one day a week for about 45 minutes. Even the moms taking their toddlers to story-time are there for a short time once a week. And they do remind their children to be quiet and walk. When you’re in attendance every day with the same breaking of the rules, yes the staff would become frustrated at not being able to complete their tasks. They don’t just sit at a desk waiting for someone to come over. When they’re staring at the screen, they’re not on Youtube or Facebook, they’re organizing the wonderful programs for people of all ages, they’re locating books patrons requested, they’re tracking down books that people haven’t returned.

Did you know that Champlain Library has in the past, hosted at least one special event for people with autism? Tell me a library that is against children and youth with autism would do that. They found ways to include everyone.

I believe here as a parent helping youth deal with autism in the real world that the problem isn’t in how the staff handle rule-breakers, but in how the parents of some kids (not just autistic ones) don’t enforce rules.

As a side note, because you made a point of saying the kids love the time to go play Roblox at the library – perhaps this is a poor choice of activities at the library. Consider that Roblox is an online world where your child is immersed in a space they can’t control. People can destroy things they’ve built or stop them from completing a task they want to complete. Consider that it’s exciting. Are they going to chatter, groan or even get upset? Yeah, probably. Is a library where others are working, reading and studying a good place for this to happen? No. As a patron having witnessed many kids being loud playing this game, I believe Champlain Library should have a server-wide ban on this, but I’m not a policy maker, just a patron who appreciates all the hard work the staff does to keep things flowing smoothly.

Longterm Patron,
Vankleek Hill

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