When a young Autistic girl’s precious ‘Shopkins collection’ was stolen, so much more was taken from her then cute, tiny toys. Here, her mum Angela, writes an open letter – directed to the persons responsible, and to any others who feel a sense of entitlement to another’s property.
I’m told you have long brown hair, a slim build, in your late teens and that your co-offending friend is of similar age – 17 or perhaps 18 years old. You’re on the wrong side of adulthood, too carefree to yet understand the complex world of a mumma bear, flying solo, and too skilled in vocal ability to grasp the often silent world of a young Autistic girl.
I wonder if you noticed – when you swiftly swiped my girls 232 tiny ‘Shopkins’, her ten ‘Shopkins’ dolls and her six Shopkins ‘Cutie Cars’, from our patio table – the meticulous way most had been lined up by colour and function? I’ve wondered if you gave any thought to as to ‘why’ the ‘Petkins’ car, ‘Gemma Stone’ doll and little ‘Puppy House’ were purposefully set to one side? Or, if you gave any consideration as to why ‘Toastie Bread’ and ‘Apple Blossom’ were front and centre to the rest?
You see, my nine year old girl – the one whose precious collection you stole – is Autistic, and her unique neurology delights in sorting, lining up, role-playing with, and using her beloved Shopkins to communicate, every single day, in a way that serves an intrinsic and meaningful purpose.
I’ve wondered too, would it have made a difference if you had known that what where simply ‘cute’ moulded pieces of plastic to you; to my girl are purposeful objects that help her to communicate about daily events, her needs and her wants? Would you have chosen leaving, rather than taking, if you had realised that what you saw as sparkling dashes of glitter on colourful plastic shapes; to my girl are familiar patterns of differences that make her world feel safe and secure – each speck of glitter on each individual piece counted for, every tiny mark committed to memory, each piece a symbol of daily routine?
There was infact nothing random in how those tiny Shopkins were positioned on the table – their placement communicated the story of how my girl and I were going to be taking her puppy to the vet that afternoon, how I, represented by ‘Gemma Stone’ doll, was going to drive us there … and that my girl had requested toast and an apple for breakfast.
Do you understand now? You didn’t steal a collection of tiny toys, or moulded bits of plastic, or hundreds of dollars of individually chosen Shopkins collected over four years – you stole a child’s unique way of communicating and interacting in the world. You stole her individual creativity in how she plays. And you stole her sense of familiarity and safety.
She’s a gorgeous girl, my little one. A girl who does her very best – every single day – to understand and contribute to what is often a confusing world to her. A girl with a generous heart and a kind spirit who delights in abandoning random letters of kindness, sprinkled with glitter, in unsuspecting places – in the hope that they bring a smile to another child’s face that day. A young girl, who by neurology is fearful of unfamiliars, now has cause to cement that negativity in her minds eye.
As for the scooter you also took as part of your ‘find’, perhaps more disturbing than you taking it, was how calmly you responded to my elderly neighbour, when he called out to you over the fence. “It’s all good, I’m a friend, just picking up the scooter to fix for them”, you claimed. Your relaxed and carefree manner, your choice of words, tells me it’s unlikely that taking from others is foreign to you.
Your still young. You have much yet to experience and understand in life. You’re not too young however, to know right from wrong. You’re not too young to understand the negative and damaging impact your actions can have on another. You have the power to choose better in future, to choose giving, instead of taking, or at the very least, to choose to ‘do no harm’ in future.
My challenge to you, is for my girl to be the last child, the last person, you steal from.
‘Shopkins for Cadence’ Appeal
A detailed list of Cadence’s stolen Shopkins can be found here. If you would like to contribute to replacing Cadence’s stolen Shopkins, please consider donating no longer used / unwanted Shopkins (and ‘Petkins’ Shopkins) to: ‘Shopkins for Cadence’, PO Box 889, Morayfield, 4506, QLD, Australia.