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Kris Aquino's Reply to Sons' 'Autistic' Tag Is a Lesson on Inclusion
PHOTO BY @krisaquino/Instagram
  • Mistakes often pave the way to learning. When it comes to social media, always think before you click.

    Back in August 2019, Kris Aquino shared a photo of her two sons, Josh Aquino, 24, and Bimby Yap, 12, to share her delight and gratitude whenever someone tells her she has good kids.

    “Every time sinasabihan niyo po ako na naging maganda ang pagpapalaki ko sa kanila, I realize exactly why God has given me the strength to keep going kasi kailangan nila ko at mahal na mahal namin ang isa’t-isa,” Kris wrote. She even quipped about feeling extra happy when people say they look like her.

    But on August 13, the mom of two fired back at a “fan” who commented and called her sons “the autistics.” Josh, her firstborn, has been diagnosed with autism, and Kris felt the word was used to insult her sons.

    “I have every right to call you out because you threw the first uncalled-for insult,” Kris wrote on Instagram. She added that these incidents particularly inspire her to run for public office “to fight for those without a voice, like special children, parents who cannot afford proper health care, and marginalized parents.”

    Kris made sure everyone can still read her reply. ABS-CBN News reports that person has since apologized and deleted her comments, and had also asked Kris to stop using the incident to gain the public’s sympathy.

    This incident is an excellent lesson on inclusion. To help educate the public and minimize these incidents, the Autism Society Philippines (ASP) released a statement about what terms to use.


    “The word ‘autistic’ is NOT an insult per se. It is simply an adjective to the noun ‘autism,’” reads the statement which ASP posted on their Facebook page. The word is also “used as a noun to refer to someone on the autism spectrum,” the national, nonprofit organization added.

    “But when the word is used with an intention to hate on or to ridicule, then this warrants our collective indignation. Context matters,” the statement stressed.

    ASP explained that using euphemistic terms such as “persons with special needs” can make the person feel isolated. Using the phrase “special child,” which Kris used in her reply, has the same effect, according to them. It’s also vague and “infantilizing,” which is unfair to persons with disabilities who are maturing and making good progress, and may negatively affect their self-esteem.

    Instead of these euphemistic terms, the ASP recommends more inclusive terms, such as “person on the spectrum,” “neuro-divergent,” and “neuro-diverse” to refer to persons with autism.

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    If possible, it’s better to ask the person or a child’s parents which terms they feel comfortable with. Often, though, there is no need to call attention to their condition when it’s not relevant to the conversation.

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