The hardships of children with special needs in the Philippines was again placed under the spotlight after a woman's post about how her brother was threatened by an irate customer at a coffee shop in Cebu City went viral.
The Cebu City incident came just weeks after a mother complained of ill treatment of her son with autism at the posh Plantation Bay resort in Mactan Island. The Autism Society Philippines, an advocate group, appealed for kindness "beyond being civil" towards those with special needs.
Chriselle Marie Dabao, in a Facebook post that has been shared 4,000 times as of early Wednesday, said her brother was playing with a towel and his drink at a branch of The Coffe Bean and Tea Leaf in East Taft, Cebu City. The boy, who is non-verbal, was in a good mood and was seated at the edge of the table.
A "big man" approached the boy and told the Dabao family to stop the child "from doing what he is doing" and to "discipline my brother for not behaving normally). An apology from the family failed to placate the irate customer, she said.
"But he did not stop there, he stood up and got really mad at us and wanted to smash Regur with a chair. Imagine the scenario of a big adult/old enough man, to understand the situation, acting in that way. Wanting to hurt my brother for playing his towel," she said.
Dabao said it was "disappointing" that staff from Coffee Bean moved them to another table without apologizing.
The boy is "okay" but "he still does not know what have happened. But the man’s loud voice scared him a bit. On the way home, he held my hand in the car, as if telling me he was sorry our Sunday did not end well because of him," she said.
The Autism Society Philippines said it was saddened by the incident. It also pointed out that what incensed the man was that the boy's inability to sit still was seen as a lapse in health safety protocols.
"The action taken by the coffee shop was also wanting," the advocates said. The law is clear on the rights of and protections for persons with disabilities."
"Kindness goes beyond being civil. It means actively choosing to be generous with a part of ourselves -- whether it is time, knowledge, finances, patience, or emotions -- so that those with less or are vulnerable can live with dignity," it said.