A mother who was shamed for her autistic children's behaviour in an Australian supermarket has shared an angry Facebook post about the hurtful experience.
Katie Maree said she was "mortified" and "embarrassed" after a fellow shopper told her off for her children's rudeness and bad language.
"My kids look like normal children but guess what ... they are far from that," she wrote in an open letter to the woman who humiliated her at Coles in Coolum, on the Sunshine Coast.
"You can't see autism like you can see chickenpox.
"Every day is a struggle for my children, my family, my whole community and it is so disappointing that someone like you can just so easily make it that much harder. My kids didn't choose to be this way, they didn't ask to be born with autism.
"They truly are great kids. You unfortunately saw them on a bad day. I was crying my eyes out. I was mortified. I was embarrassed."
Katie said she apologised twice but the woman persisted. The mother asked for a little empathy and for others to educate themselves about autism.
"I'm trying so hard to help my kids. Next time you feel the need to have a go at someone about their kids how about you stop and ask 'are you OK?'."
Rose Birrell commented: "I feel for you we are bringing up a five year old grandson with autism and it is really hard to go shopping with him and he doesn't get invited to parties at school and it used to bother me but now I do not care about the looks any more."
Matthew Bloomfield agreed. "The amount of times I have glared at people and shouted 'does it help you to know he has autism?' in the middle of the shops. The look of regret that they even opened their mouth has always been somewhat satisfying. Don't let ignorance get you down."
Katie's words are particularly poignant coming so soon after the deaths of a family from Davidson, on Sydney's northern beaches, who had two severely autistic children.
Police have said they are not seeking anyone in connection with the deaths, which have been referred to the NSW State Coroner.
No note was found at the home and the family's computers are being examined to see if there is any evidence the mother knew what was happening.
Ms Lutz's brother, Juan Lutz Pena, is said to be "deeply upset" and demanding to know why the authorities did not help his "severely depressed" sister, who was so desperate she would ring the Department of Family and Community Services "nine times a day".
Mr Lutz Pena, a doctor, flew into Sydney from Colombia with his parents Alicia and Ernesto to meet police yesterday and identify Ms Lutz's body, the Daily Telegraph reported.
"Juan is deeply upset by the death of his sister and wants to know why the relationship between Family and Community Services broke down," a source close to the family told the newspaper.
He apparently longed for his sister and her children to move to Bogota.
A church service for the family is expected to be held early next week at Holy Name Parish in Wahroonga, with a funeral due to take place at a later date.
Where to get help:
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
• Samaritans 0800 726 666
• If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.