Cadence is a 7-year-old girl from Australia who has autism. Her mum, Angela, chronicles Cadence’s journey on her Facebook page, I Am Cadence. Last week Cadence, who doesn’t speak but communicates through writing, wrote her mother a heart-wrenching note that will forever be seared in my memory as a reminder to THINK about the little ears that are listening to us BEFORE we speak. Or ANY ears for that matter. Angela explains in a post on Cadence’s page:
“What ‘messages’ are children hearing – from ourselves, from other parents, at school, from media and in the general community? And what are the ‘take home’ learnings, spoken or unspoken, they are internalizing 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.”
The question Cadence asked her mom that broke my heart in two?
“Does being autism make me bad?”
My heart hit the floor when I read that line. They verbal exchange on note between Cadence and her mom is gut-wrenching, but ultimately inspiring. You can read it in full below, or on the I am Cadence Facebook page.
“I was born autism but that doesn’t mean I was born bad.”
You couldn’t be more right, Cadence. You were NOT born bad. You were fearfully and wonderfully made.
Hey, Grown-Ups! That’s you and me. Let’s remember when we discuss special needs, that kids WITH special needs can hear and see us. Let’s not give them ANY ideas that they are less than perfectly, wonderfully, amazingly who they were created to be.
Thank you, Cadence and Angela. Your profound words are ones I won’t soon forget—or forget to apply in my life.