Autism Society Philippines Calls Out Local Resort For Discriminating Child with Autism

The Autism Society Philippines has called out a local resort after its harsh remarks towards a mom who complained about her and her child with autism being reprimanded by staff for making too much noise while swimming.

The mother had posted her complaint about Plantation Bay Resort and Spa in Cebu on TripAdvisor and gave it one star as she recounted her experience being told by lifeguards to minimize her child’s noise even though she informed them that he had special needs.

Photo by Alana Harris via Unsplash.com (Note: Photo was not taken at Plantation Bay Resort)

“The plan to swim the whole morning came to a halt. I asked Fin if we could go back to the room because we weren’t allowed to squeal and be merry the special way. It’s a discriminating experience,” she said in her post.

In response to her complaint, Plantation Bay resident shareholder Manny Gonzalez informed her in a now-deleted comment of the “strict policies” about noisemaking in the resort as it might desensitize staff from hearing a “real cry for help.”

He also accused her of “most deliberately lying or has been given an incorrect diagnosis of autism.” He alleged that “uncontrolled shouting is not a symptom of autism” and even told her to “Google autism and verify this for yourself.”

This triggered anger among netizens and prompted Autism Society Philippines to publish a statement in response.

“This resort’s response is shamefully ignorant of what the autism spectrum is — even going as far as to shame the parent and question the veracity of the child’s diagnosis,” they said in a Facebook post. “This sad event is an opportunity for sensitivity training; and a review of the resort’s policies for compliance to disability laws.”

(ALSO READ: LOOK: This Graphic Novel Aims to Break the Stigma Surrounding Autism)

Gonzales later issued an apology for “questioning the mother’s motives,” reiterating that them controlling guests’ noise levels is for the purpose of keeping everyone safe. “As a result of that policy, in almost 25 years we have never had a child die here. A mother’s pride is important, but more important are the lives of the children who come here,” he wrote.

Autism Society Philippines shared the apology on its Facebook page and wrote, “Apology is a significant first step. Sadly, the company has a long way to go. Plantation Bay Resort & Spa stands firm on their belief that there is NO ROOM for reasonable accommodation for the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities — even equating it with parental “pride”. All this, as the nation commemorates National Human Rights Consciousness Week.”

“We hope the company acknowledges the need for rights-based disability sensitivity training and a review of its policies and processes against the Magna Carta of Persons with Disabilities,” they added.

The Department of Tourism has also issued a statement that it has already launched an investigation regarding the events that happened in the resort.

“[The DOT], after due notice and hearing, will mete the proper administrative sanctions to the resort,” the statement read.

Under Republic Act No. 7277, or the Magna Carta for Persons with Disabilities, discrimination against persons with disabilities is illegal and those found guilty can face fines amounting to PHP50,000 to PHP100,000 depending on the number of violations, and prison terms between six months to six years.

(ALSO READ: Autism Society PH Praises Arjo Atayde for Portrayal of Character with Autism)

What are your thoughts on this? Share them in the comments below.

*Note: Header is a stock photo and was not taken at the Plantation Bay Resort.


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