Like most children, Cadence, from Queensland, Australia, picks up more of what's going on around her than adults may realise.
Recently, she hid herself underneath her teacher’s desk at school – somewhere she goes when she wants to feel safe - after hearing stories about how children with autism "hurt people" and "need to be tied up".
While under her teacher's desk, Cadence wrote the following non-verbal exchange with her mum, Angela:
Cadence: Does being autism make me bad?
Angela: What makes you wonder if being autism makes you bad?
Cadence: Grown ups always say it’s hard being mum or dad if your kid is autism and it said on the TV if you are autism you hurt people. And kids who are autism have to be put in a gate to keep others safe or tied up.
Angela: Do you think I believe those things are true, or that I would say them?
Angela: What do you believe?
Cadence: I don’t like hurting people. I don’t like being scared. I was born autism but that doesn’t mean I was born bad…
Are you crying?
Angela: Yes. I have happy tears that you know what is true and I have sad tears because there are lots of people who don’t know what is true.
Angela shared her daughter's note on Facebook because she'd like to remind people to think about how the words we say may affect the children who hear them.
"What 'messages' are children hearing - from ourselves, from other parents, at school, from media and in the general community?" Angela asked in the post.
"And what are the 'take home' learnings, spoken or unspoken, they are internalising from these messages?
"Cadence's sensory differences means she hears, sees and observes every detail around her - every conversation, every sight, every smell; as many autistic children do.
"This 'conversation', between Cadence and myself, started under her teachers desk - a 'safe place' where Cadence had put herself in her confusion that she was somehow 'bad' - a belief that had culminated from over-hearing other parents and hearing news stories."
Angela's post struck a chord with many people, with parents asking if they could share the note with their children's teachers.
"I have been there overhearing other parents and children speaking in a negative manor about children with autism," wrote one commenter.
"The awareness is lacking, the compassion is lacking .The understanding of how intelligent these children are doesn't seem to be highlighted anywhere.
"Some parents are so afraid being confused that they act out with hatred and ignorance. There needs to be a shift in thought process."
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