CANTON, Ohio - Felicia Aquilo believes representation is everything, and nothing more proved that than when her 5-year-old deaf son got excited seeing another deaf character on television.
The mother said her son, Silas, was watching his favorite show "Dino Dana" on Amazon Prime at their Canton, Ohio, home last month. The Canadian television show teaches children about dinosaurs.
But when an episode featured a deaf character, Silas couldn’t contain his happiness.
"He immediately spotted a young boy who has hearing aids, and he was excited to see someone who is just like him on the television," Aquilo told FOX Television Stations.
Felicia Aquilo and her family. (Felicia Aquilo)
Aquilo recorded her son’s reaction and posted it on Instagram.
"Wow, he’s deaf!" Silas said while signing.
"Just like who?" his mom then asked.
"Me!" Silas responded.
The Instagram video has racked up more than 7,000 likes.
"It means everything," Aquilo added. "He knows he is deaf. He knows he has hearing devices and other people do not. Seeing a character on one of his favorite shows who also has hearing devices shows him he is capable of anything!"
"My heart was so happy, and there were definitely tears," she added.
Aquilo said Silas’ 19-months old brother, Isaiah, is also deaf.
"Raising deaf children as a hearing mother definitely has its challenges and hurdles but it’s equally as beautiful," she explained. "The initial shock is long gone and now we are focused on learning a whole new language, learning about Deaf Culture, and making sure our boys always feel understood and included."
"I share our story because I want to show the world that being deaf doesn’t limit what these boys are capable of. There’s only one thing my children can’t do…and that is hear," she said.
The Deaf community has been urging for more representation in media. When "CODA" won the 2022 Oscar for best picture in Los Angeles, movie stars from Samuel L. Jackson to Nicole Kidman waved their hands instead of clapping — recognition of a culture and community that proudly calls itself Deaf.
"CODA" is a tender, coming-of-age tale about the only hearing member in a deaf family that became a crowd-pleaser and earned widespread critical acclaim to become the first film with a largely deaf cast to win best picture. It stars a trio of actors who are deaf, while offering an authentic depiction of Deaf life.
"CODA" was the first film that "allowed Deaf people to be normal, hard-working individuals trying to raise a family, and navigate the world," said William Millios, who is deaf and works in freelance videography and web development in Montpelier, Vermont.
This story was reported from Los Angeles. The Associated Press contributed.