World Autism Awareness Week 27 March – 2 April : A personal story

This is the first in a three-part series of blog posts written by Hope, who’s a member of library staff and who is on the Autistic Spectrum. In part one she talks about her experiences as a child.

It is not always obvious that someone is on the Autistic Spectrum. I am a thirty-one-year-old Library Adviser in  Central Library. I also happen to be on the Autistic Spectrum.

As a child, I was lost in unfamiliar social situations, filled with a fear of strangers, separate to that created by the ‘stranger danger’ messages with which all children are familiar. My fear was more complex, less easy to express. I was afraid of being disliked, of being thought of as weird, of seeing strangers’ eyes glaze over as I spoke to them, or worse, seeing them look sideways at the person next to them in a glance they thought I couldn’t catch – a glance which said – ‘isn’t she a freak?’

Work can be frightening for people on the Autistic Spectrum, as it entails working with people (members of the public as well as colleagues.) The fear comes not from the other people, but from the Autistic person’s inability (or their low perception of their own ability) to read social cues. Some people who have Autistic Spectrum disorders may talk too much to cover up nerves, some may hardly speak at all – both can be construed as inappropriate.

Tomorrow, Hope talks about the importance of libraries.

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