The Autism Society Philippines (ASP) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to the well-being of persons with autism spectrum disorder. The ASP has been in the forefront of providing services and training to families living with autism.

A promise to end the joke


Autism is a neuro-developmental condition affecting millions of Filipinos. Individuals with autism have a unique way of processing things they see, hear, feel, taste and smell. The condition comes with communication and socialization difficulties which can be confusing for many. Families who live with autism have daily struggles not everyone can understand.

Having autism is NOT a joke or an insult.  Having autism is NOT equivalent to being unintelligent or indifferent. Having autism is NOT equivalent to being violent or having an explosive behavior. People with autism deserve the right to exist with dignity.

The 1Pangako campaign which began in 2012; has reached millions of Filipinos through social media and notably the "1Bansa 1Pangako" events held every third Monday of the year at private and public institutions nationwide.  It is a call for the stop to the everyday ridicule and vilification of persons with autism.  This toxic attitude is the root of bullying against many children and adults who live with autism and intellectual disability in the Philippines.

STOP using "autistic" as a derogatory term. The United Nations recommends person first language (person with autism) while many self-advocate groups champion identity first language (autistic person). The word "autistic" is simply the adjective to "autism".  When used in the right context, it is an empowering descriptive.  For example, "My autistic son has a photographic memory, especially with roads and maps.  He is my compass."  When used as a joke or insult, it strips persons with autism of the dignity they are entitled to by divine and human law.  For example, "My car is broken again -- autistic kasi."  This is wrong.  This is unkind.

STOP using media portrayals as a benchmark for autism.  There have been many portrayals of autism and intellectual disability over the years --  with some choosing to use negative stereotypes for dramatic effect.  Their popularity has birthed nicknames that are used to taunt persons on the spectrum in their communities -- names like "Budoy" or "Boyet". More alarming is the mounting confusion over how autism and intellectual disabilities manifest, as the dramatic or the comedic versions are easier for the man on the street to understand.  The "Boyet Challenge" and its variations "Kapag lumingon ka ..." and the "This is my voice after watching #myspecialtatay ..." are social media gimmicks where participants parody a popular character with autism.  This reduces persons with autism and intellectual disabilities to a caricature. This is wrong.  This is unkind. This prompted the ASP to promote #no2boyetchallenge in January 2019.

GO attend the ASP's monthly New Member and Volunteer Orientation.  Aside from learning about the Autism Society Philippines, the session dives into what autism is and what it is not.  It discusses issues like disability-sensitive language and autism myths.  Students who seek ASP's help to complete school projects are required to take this. We can also share style guides for writing about disability for news and fiction, for those who work in media.  Autism advocacy is not about being kind or wearing a puzzle pin or posting stuff on Facebook.  Advocacy is about learning about autism and other disabilities, understanding the rights of PWDs and working to inspire a better life for persons with autism.

GO make the pledge on social media.  One simple promise can spur the change that may make life better for millions of Filipinos with autism.  Take a photo with your right hand raised or a video of you making the pledge and post with the promise in the language/dialect you are most comfortable with.
Tagalog: Gumawa ako ng #1pangako na kikilos para mahinto ang paggamit ng #autism bilang kutya o katatawanan -- sa salita at sa gawa! Isusulong ko ang tunay na pagtanggap, pagkalinga at pagpapahalaga sa mga taong may kapansanan.
 #AutismOKPH
English: I made a promise to act to stop the use of #autism as a joke or insult -- in word and in deed!  I will work to advance the genuine acceptance, accommodation and appreciation of Filipinos with disabilities. #1pangako #AutismOKPH 

Next Steps: In Conversations

1. Correct people when the word "autistic" is used as a joke or insult or if  you see a "Boyet Challenge" play out. Change your expression to become more serious. Calmly say, "We should stop doing that. That is not funny." or "Wag na natin gawin yan.  Hindi biro yun."

2. If people are not receptive to the message, it is perfectly fine to walk away. We should never raise our voices. We should never pick fights. We can always talk again when the person is more receptive.

Next Steps: In Media

1. Some individuals use stronger language on-line than they usually do in real life. They may be trying to be funny or witty or angry to create a persona and to attract a particular audience. Let us counter ignorance with education.

2. If you see a disability slur or a caricature video on social media (a blog, Facebook, Twitter and the like), just comment or reply. Be calm in correcting an offensive post.
:( Pls don't use autism or intellectual disabilities as joke or insult. Peace. | http://bit.ly/1pangako. #1pangako
3. If you find individuals who are not receptive to the message, disengage. Send at the most two messages. If they still do not respond kindly, walk away gracefully. Block them, if they turn into "trolls".
Thank you for considering to do the kind thing. Peace.  #1pangako
4. Help us give cheers and jeers where they are due. If you find a public person using the word incorrectly, let us know. If you find a public person being vigilant against the use of the word, let us know. If you ask someone to stop using the word and inspired him to change, let us know.

Next Steps: In the Community

1. Make a public information video with yourself and your friends from your organization, church, school or office, in support of our project. Put it on YouTube and let us know -- we would be happy to share it on the ASP 1Pangako FB Page. We have English and Tagalog scripts you can download and use if you wish.

2. Create a pledge wall (or floor or door or where it makes sense). Get creative! Don't forget to take a picture you can share on social media with the hashtag #1pangako.

3. Ask ASP via email, Facebook or Twitter, to talk to your organization, church, school or office to talk about autism; and help your community learn more about this misunderstood condition.

 
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