Cary mom of adult son with autism upset by library policy

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Wake County mother said a visit to her local library left her heart hurting over the weekend. She's upset that she was told she needed to be near her adult son with autism at all times while they visit the library.

She said she thinks it's a case of discrimination.

Lisa Marks said she left her 22-year-old son, Daniel, alone for a few minutes downstairs at the Cary Regional Library Sunday while she went upstairs to get a book.

After Daniel, who is nonverbal, made some noise, she said staff told her she needed to be with her adult son at all times. She thinks it's because of his disability.

"I went up to the desk, I was also told that was library policy," Marks said. "I said, 'well that's kind of discriminatory and hurtful to my son because, again, there's not a lot of places he can go and feel comfortable and he likes to feel independent.' I was upset and I started to cry a little bit."

That Wake County policy is posted on the wall of the library. It says: "Caregivers must stay with and supervise charges at all times."

Read the Wake County Behavior Expectations here.

Cary Library manager Liz Bartlett said "charges" can refer to children or adults with special needs. She said it's not discrimination; it's about safety.

"We do not discriminate on any basis and most certainly would not ever want someone to leave feeling they've been discriminated against," Bartlett said. "I'm sorry if they felt that they were discriminated against or in any way singled out, but that was not the case. It's really about making sure that the child and the people in the library, children and adults, are all taken care of."

Marks said more awareness about autism is needed.

"We've come so far but there's still a lack of understanding and there's still a bit of discrimination against young men and women with disabilities," Marks said. "There's a lot of challenges that we face."

The library manager said they are inclusive and have sensory story times for those on the autism spectrum.

"I don't think there's an unawareness capacity," Bartlett said. "Whether or not there was a less than good communication here, that might have been the case here, most certainly. Like I said, our goal is to make sure everybody is safe."

Marks reached out to the library. She hopes to work with the library to come up with more programs for those with disabilities.
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