Mum told: Your son deserves to die
AS SHE tended to her four-year-old boy, a Mackay mum was left reeling after another shopper said that they were the reason "why euthanasia should be legalised in this country".
The words are enough to send shivers down anyone's spine.
It brought this mum of four, Tori Brooks, to tears.
She was shopping at Caneland Central with her family when Travis, 4, experienced a minor epileptic fit, which left him drooling a little bit and needing some tending to.
"I took him into the parents' room to get him cleaned up and give him somewhere to wind down and not be upset," she explained.
"As I walked in the door I was confronted by another mother who saw him and said, 'children like that are the reason why euthanasia should be legalised in this country'."
Initially, Tori was hesitant to tell her story, but she has, and the strength it shows and the bond that is revealed between this mum and son is extremely moving.
"It hit me hard and I didn't have it in me to say anything back at the time but I was left in tears - like you just told me my son should be dead or that I should kill my child because he has this condition," Tori Brooks said.
"Believe it or not, there is a damn good reason why euthanasia is not a legal treatment option for special needs kids."
Travis has been diagnosed with uncontrollable epilepsy and global development delay; however, despite his conditions is still capable of living a full and enjoyable life.
"He's actually off to kindergarten this year and he's a really bright, bubbly and loving kid," Ms Brooks said.
"Yes, it can be challenging, but at the same time it's not the end of the world.
"And I'm fully aware that the sight of someone mid-seizure can be confronting; but special needs people, adults and children alike, no matter how small or great their disability, deserve to live happily and be equally accepted in the community, just like anyone else.
"My son has complex needs and while they will never go away completely he is a clever young man and can do many things that other kids his age cannot do. Above all else, he loves me as mum and smothers me daily in cuddles and kisses."
According to Ms Brooks, the incident at Caneland wasn't the first time she's encountered such comments but she wants it to be the last.
"I've had parents say the same thing to me before. I've had total strangers at the bus stop see my son in a pram and go 'why would you keep a child like that alive?'," she said.
"But they don't know. People are scared and uneducated. They don't understand that these kids are happy, they're interacting with life and loving life.
"Even medical staff have said things to me sometimes. When I have the opportunity I explain to them what I love about raising my son and the reaction I got was one of actual surprise.
"They said to me that they thought it would all be negative and stressful, they had never considered that it could be positive and rewarding, which it is."
Endeavour Foundation CEO Andrew Donne was shocked and disappointed that such "small-minded" thinking still existed in the community.
"This kind of thinking comes straight from the dark ages and has no place in our nation," he said.
"People who consider disability to be an impost on society demonstrate their utter ignorance of what people with a disability genuinely contribute.
"The evidence I see is that people with a disability make a significant economic contribution through work, and value the opportunity to do so. I see people with a disability working hard to achieve their utmost in educational settings, despite physical and social barriers.
"I see people with a disability making a significant contribution to the social, sporting and community groups that make them welcome and I see people with a disability speaking up for better access, thereby helping to create a society that is easier for all to navigate."
Mr Donne said disability was "just another form of difference and diversity" which most Australians recognise as a normal part of any healthy community.
"We must all stand against small-minded thinking," he said.
"Take the time to know and understand people who are different in some way, and you will find that you are richer from the experience."
Ms Brooks encourages other parents who have encountered similar behaviour to "keep their chin up" and continue doing the best they can for their children.
"You are your child's best advocate, people are scared of what they don't understand and you shouldn't be made to feel bad about that," she said.
"You're doing the best you can, so just keep going and hold your head up high.
"My grandma used to say something I think too many people have forgotten - 'If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all'."
Ashleigh Christine Smith: This story just made me feel so sick! How could any one ever say that! What is going on with our world that another human could say somthing so terrible to a mother about her beautiful blessing!
Susie Rigby: The cruelty and spiteful arrogance of some people is astounding. Thank you for sharing your story, it is sickening that you have to deal with this sort of ignorant behaviour. You and your son are obviously happy and loving.
Anna Deguara: Tori I'm astounded at some people's actions that would of been such a horrific time seeing your son go through this and then have people saying horrible things where the hell do they get off. I hope your beautiful boy is ok you are an amazing mum stay strong.
Nadine Cini: We have become a society of hate and ridicule, not happy unless putting others down. During my years as an early childhood educator I thoroughly enjoyed the love and sometimes challengers supporting children with special needs, the love and appreciation from these beautiful kids is so rewarding. Stay strong Tori you are doing a fabulous job and Travis will achieve what he strives for because of you. Without these happy little souls the world will be sad and ugly. This is the reason I will not support euthanasia!
Katrina Tranter: I don't understand how people can be so small minded. What a wonderful mother raising a gorgeous young man
Brooke Camilleri: How could someone be so cruel to say that, that is disgusting . You're doing a great job as the mother of this beautiful boy.
Kirsten Joyce: People are disgusting. Until you have a child with extra needs. You will never know the great happiness you feel when they achieve things in life you were told that could never do. I find us mothers can be particularly nasty to other mothers. Yes we all think our kids are perfect. I think my special needs boy is perfect but no need to be nasty about it or put people down.
Charlene Mooney: Just sad! I have a son who has multiple disabilities and these rooms are a absolute god send when he is having a bad day.
Melina Contor: Oh my god! I'm horrified!! How can someone be so cruel. That poor mother. God forbid these horrible people ever have to face a challenging situation.
Judy Gibson: This little boy is my neighbours son. He's a lovely little boy...always up for a chat..loves his new sister to bits..children like Travis need support not ridicule.