Dear Pauline. 

I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts after hearing the disgusting words Pauline Hanson stated about children on the autism spectrum. 
We have three amazing children on the spectrum. Our eldest, Dex happened to start school this year. Dex was diagnosed last year, just in time for early intervention. 
He struggled a lot with sensory issues such as loud, sudden noises, textures and smells. He would get a drop of water on him from his drink bottle and become extremely distressed, crying and running to hide. If he heard a loud noise, he would run away crying, looking for shelter to hide under. If he even SAW creamy textures such as glue, sunscreen or thickened cream he would start gagging to the point he’d nearly throw up. 
We struggled finding a school for Dex. I was worried he’d be bullied, he’d get lost in the system in the massive school we are zoned to and his speech scores were too high to go to a specialist school or support centre. My last resort was to home school, but I was worried he’d not get the best opportunities for his education if I were to home school. 
After a smaller MAINSTREAM school was mentioned to us that wasn’t zoned, we went to check it out. I immediately felt a calm rush over me. We enrolled him that day and he started grade prep there this year. 
Within a week of him beginning our entire family noticed a MASSIVE difference in Dex. The biggest stand out memory was on a hot day at his grandparents house, he was dipping his head in a bucket of water, drenching himself while fully dressed. My husband and I had never seen him do this, and I remember us both looking at each other thinking sending him to school was already the best choice we’d made for him. I had a lump in my throat, holding back the happiest tears. 
From there, he kept smashing hurdles. The meltdowns became less frequent. The sensory aversions became less severe and the amount of aversions have reduced. He is one of the top readers in his class and he went from crying at the sight of buttons on clothing to wearing it everyday. Yesterday he even ate CREAM on the side of the cake he had at a cafe, but I had expected him to look at it and start gagging! He has overcome his fear of sand and the beach and ran around with his brother and sister on the beach yesterday!! 
A lot of these hurdles he’s overcome are thanks to him attending mainstream school. 
So, Senator Hanson. I challenge you to find a parent of autistic children who Day by day isn’t trying to give their kids the best for them. The most opportunities for them. The best education within their means. 
Pauline Hanson, OUR CHILDREN deserve EQUITY. OUR CHILDREN are no less deserving of an education than a neurotypical child. If you’ve met one person on the spectrum you’ve only met one person on the spectrum. Each individual will benefit differently and that includes the option of mainstream school. Autistic people (or people with autism depending on what the individual prefers) ARE NOT A BURDEN. I invite you to come and see for yourself. ✌🏼

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