I loved going to the city’s main library when my daughter looked for books and videos in the children’s section.
The children’s section must have been designed by a mom. One way in, a bathroom in the section, and a security guard on patrol. I could park myself near the door with a newspaper and turn my daughter loose. She would browse for hours sometimes. Other times, she new exactly what she wanted and was ready to go in minutes. Either way was ok…this was a good, free and quiet activity we both enjoyed.
Eventually, she wanted to visit the teen department. She wanted ‘Graphic novels,’ you know what I mean, we used to call them ‘comic books.’ Problem is, the teen section is open, not enclosed. How could I be sure she wouldn’t wander off?
Adults are not supposed to sit in the teen section, or hang out there, but adults, mostly young men, would comb through the shelves for books, too. How could I be sure they wouldn’t bother her?
The nearest adult seating area was the business/economics section. I sat there with a book and read…occasionally walking to where I could see her…she would be sitting on the floor in front of a shelf full of comics, oblivious to everything.
One day the security guard on that floor stopped me to ask what I was doing hanging around the teen section. I told him my autistic daughter was searching for books to check out. I told him I was concerned because she had a tendency to wander and I couldn’t sit in the teen section. He asked me to introduce him to my daughter. So I did. (I realized later that since there was no familial resemblance – he would have never suspected I was her mom.) He told her that he walked through the section regularly…if she couldn’t see me or if anyone bothered her, he would help her. He pointed out a better spot for me to sit and every time he walked through the section he would give me a thumbs up on his way by to let me know she was still there and ok. Sometimes he would tell her to go check in with me. His kindness gave my daughter a freedom she would not have otherwise had.