The One Foundation creates controversy with “笨小孩” (silly kids)

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The One Foundation has created controversy after launching an initiative on Weibo for World Autism Awareness Day. The initiative was titled “人人都是笨小孩” [the official english translation is “Childish is with Everyone”]. The phrase “笨小孩” – meaning literally “silly kids” – attracted criticism with some people worried that the term would reinforce the negative stereotypes associated with autistic children. Many raised the point that big influential organizations such as the One Foundation shouldn’t repeatedly make these types of mistakes [the One Foundation has previously attracted criticism for using insensitive terminology in similar initiatives].

In response to these criticisms, Li Jin, Director of the One Foundation, said that the foundation sought advice from all parties, including parents of autistic children, before deciding on the title. He also stressed that the Chinese term “笨小孩” isn’t necessarily a bad term because ‘everyone does stupid things sometimes’. Li also said that it is a good way to raise awareness since people can be more sympathetic when they find “common ground” with a certain group. He then pointed out that the One Foundation has a long history of promoting equal rights for autistic people, and that it wasn’t fair for people who have never met an autistic child to criticise the foundations’ efforts over a small technicality. “There might be a better term to describe autistic children, it just never crossed our mind” Li added.