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The mum of an autistic boy was told her son "shouldn't be allowed out" has spoken out about the nasty abuse he has received in the past.
Natalie Fernando has told of the distressing reaction her five-year-old son has previously received after posting a picture of kind stranger Ian Shelly helping her lad Rudy as he became overwhelmed last week.
The 44-year-old, from Hockley, Essex, told EssexLive: "We've had people tell us he shouldn't be allowed out, that we should 'take your child home'.
"Or people say 'what the hell is wrong with you? Why are you letting him behave like that?'
"We have had stares, tuts, mutters. I remember Rudy having a meltdown in a cinema one time."
She went on: "We had been in the High Street and it was pouring down with rain so we went into the cinema lobby to try and get out.
"People were just standing around staring at this little boy going crazy and not one person said are you okay?"
The mum says she has often been left in tears by other people's indifference.
But Natalie thinks she has a "duty" to educate people about SEN (special educational needs) so her son can live in a "more inclusive world".
She said: "My son is not going to be excluded from life because of people's judgement.
"We take him and we plan what we are doing and take him to all different types of places.
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"I feel we have a duty to Rudy to help him learn and understand the world around him and I feel I have a duty to others to educate them in special needs so Rudy can live in a more inclusive world."
Natalie took to social media last week to share how passerby Ian Shelley had brightened her day when he stopped to ask if everything was okay as Rudy became increasingly overwhelmed.
The image went viral, attracting nearly 90,000 likes and thousands of comments.
She added: "Ian had no idea about that and that is why it meant so much to me. It's only a simple gesture but it meant a lot to me.
"The meltdown is what everyone sees, they perceive it as 'bad behaviour' or a child 'out of control' or a parent who doesn't know how to handle them – they don't see the distress that child is in after a tantrum or me cradling him after he has maybe hit me or punched me."
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