SHAWNEE, Kan. — While stuck inside, many people have turned to the social media app TikTok for entertainment.
One local mom came across several videos related to the #Autism Challenge. But she, along with many others, are not laughing.
“It makes me sick,” Keri Cha said. “ It makes me sad for our community with disabilities.”
Cha is shocked watching TikTok videos on a phone poking fun at people with special needs. The special needs population includes her 6-year-old son living with autism and countless other medical issues.
“Our lives are not easy and something like this makes it even harder,” Cha said.
A trend surfaced on the app, which is designed to entertain and inspire creativity and inclusiveness with short videos.
But #AutismChallenge missed the mark.
“It’s not funny. This is disgusting. It’s blatant bullying an really, it’s indefensible in my mind,” Cha said.
People of all ages, even a mother and daughter together, can be seen faking seizures, walking differently and making sounds mocking people with special needs.
“I think a lot of people don’t understand that making fun of somebody who can’t help themselves is really hurtful,” Exec. Dir. of Variety Children’s Charity KC Deborah Weinbrecht said. “ So instead, get to know them in your daily lives. It’s a quarter of our population.“
Weinbrecht saw people on social media flip the script – educating others on how these actions are offensive.
Several parents in the KC metro, and across the U.S. signed a petition to get the offensive videos on TikTok taken down.
In a statement to FOX4 TikTok said, “This behavior does not reflect our values and is against the code of conduct outlined in our Community Guidelines. The content in question has been removed and we will take action against any similar content that violates our policies.”
“TikTok has finally taken the video down which, yay, it’s a win,” Weinbrecht said. “ So, parents with children with special needs have a voice, you can use your voice to make a change.“
“It’s overwhelming and it just gives you so much hope,“ Cha said.
Cha hopes her voice will help people think before you click to comment, share or join a trend that hurts others.