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Ivory, 9, says Senator's comments are unfair

Taigum's Ivory Clark wants to teach Pauline Hanson a thing or two about kids with autism and how to think before you say something mean.
Taigum's Ivory Clark wants to teach Pauline Hanson a thing or two about kids with autism and how to think before you say something mean. Renee McKeown

A YOUNG Taigum girl has written to Pauline Hanson to tell her she should think before she speaks after her feelings were hurt by comments the Senator made about children with autism.

Ivory Clark, who has high functioning autism, wrote to the One Nation Senator after she said children with autism and other disabilities were taking up too much of their teacher's time, disadvantaging other students. The letter has since gained a lot of traction online.

The 9-year-old from Sacred Heart Primary School in Sandgate said no-one had the right to separate her from her friends and classmates.

"I thought it was unfair, so I wrote a letter,” Ivory said.

"I hope she'd learn to stop and think before she spoke so she didn't hurt people's feelings.

"My friends are nice and so is my teacher and the principal.

"It's really silly because autistic people are not disruptive, they can actually help people.

"I'm better behaved than some of the boys.”

Ms Hanson recently said - during a debate on Federal Government school funding legislation - kids who want to get ahead are not getting time from their teachers because of kids with autism.

"I hear so many times from parents and teachers whose time is taken up with children ... in classroom - whether they have a disability or whether they are autistic - that they are taking up the teachers' time,” Ms Hanson said.

"These kids have a right to education by all means, but if there is a number of them, these children should actually go into a special classroom, looked after and given special attention.”

Ivory's mother Kylie Clark said her daughter's letter was posted on Facebook and received thousands of comments, reactions and shares from places as far as Canada.

"People get their kids diagnosed to get help, so imagine if they did that (segregation), people wouldn't get their kids diagnosed and wouldn't get their kids help out of fear of being ostracised.

"I'd love to see Ivory's letter go to the source (Ms Hanson).

"We've had lots of feedback from her letter. She's had other children write messages and say thank you.

"Autism is a spectrum and there are some kids who are quite challenged.

"Ivory is high functioning, she has some challenges but is perfectly capable of operating in a classroom or anywhere.”

Sacred Heart Primary School principal Chris Bathersby said Ivory was more than equal, she was a full contributor to the school.

"Having kids with autism enriches our school it doesn't take away, it makes our school a richer (more diverse) place,” he said.

"We knew nothing about the letter until her mum told us. She was worried about what the school would think but it was a brilliant letter, she stood up for herself.

"If you asked me years ago about Ivory I would have said she was a little kid who wouldn't say boo but now you can't imagine her not being her.

"She's not a disease, she is a little girl who has a disability and copes beautifully with it.”

IVORY'S LETTER:

Dear Senator Hanson,

Today you really hurt my feelings and those of all other children with autism. I am intelligent and I have lots to contribute to my class and my community.

No one has the right to say I should be separated from my friends and class mates. I am well mannered and I always behave in class.

I am much better behaved than lots of the boys in my class but we are ALL trying. I am proud to be part of a country that is inclusive and welcomes people with differences. Why do you want to change it?

I have done lots and lots of work with my psychologist about social skills. I have learnt that you need to think about what what you say and filter your words so that you don't hurt others. This has been hard for me to learn but now that I am in grade 4 I am getting better.

I could lend you my books so that you can do a better job of thinking before you say things that hurt others.

Today lots of kids were talking about autism because of what you said. A few kids said some mean things.

That's ok because I know how to deal with that. However I think you should be more thoughtful.

Topics:  autism ivory clark letter pauline hanson sacred heart primary school sandgate taigum


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