Today is Spread The Word To End The Word day. The word that is in question is the R-word. You know, retard, retarded. Those words that make my skin crawl.
Why am I writing about this on a silly little blog about vintage decor, thrift store shopping and gardening? Why piss people off with political correctness?
You may or may not know that I have a son with disabilities. I do not talk about him a lot on this blog. Sure, I could write a whole entire blog about kids with special needs and resources for parents and all that. And there are plenty of blogs who do just that. But the truth is, that as a parent of a special needs child, there are many parts of my life that don't revolve around disabilities and this is one of them. So, I decided very early on in my blogging career that I would keep this blog lighter and brighter and have it be a place for me to focus on those other things.
Well, let's blow that plan all to heck today!
My son has cerebral palsy, visual impairments and intellectual disabilities. He maneuvers through life in a wheelchair. Years ago you would have called him mentally retarded. The government changed the terminology in all federal health and educational programs to people with intellectual disabilities some time ago. The term mentally retarded is no longer used.
Taken from the r-word website:
When they were originally introduced, the terms “mental retardation” or “mentally retarded” were medical terms with a specifically clinical connotation; however, the pejorative forms, “retard” and “retarded” have been used widely in today’s society to degrade and insult people with intellectual disabilities. Additionally, when “retard” and “retarded” are used as synonyms for “dumb” or “stupid” by people without disabilities, it only reinforces painful stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities being less valued members of humanity.
Do I hear the r-word thrown around willy-nilly? All. The. Time. Practically any time I am at Walmart I hear some kid say that word. Practically any time I am at my son's school I hear someone say that word. I even have heard members of my own family toss it around.
I feel fortunate to have grown up where I did. As a child, my next door neighbor had an intellectual disability. Other kids in the neighborhood would make fun of him. Taunt him. Basically, be mean to him. But I never did. I knew that is was not nice a nice thing to do. I honestly can't remember if my parents ever told me to not call him names or if I just inherently knew, but I grew up with first hand knowledge that you do not treat people with disabilities badly. And you do not use their disability to "diss" someone else.
They deserve your respect. My son deserves your respect. I deserve your respect.
Beautifully said Pam. People can be very insensative and thoughtless in using words carelessly. Your Son absolutely deserves respect and you as his wonderful Mom deserves the same. A needed and well written post!
Well done, Pam.
My stunningly beautiful Claire has C.P. Obviously it's very minor. But still, it keeps her from doing some things that she would love to do.
Listen, I'll stop there because I'm about to ball.
well said pam. i too join your disdain for the word(s)..my precious 5 year old has Angelman Syndrome, a neurogenetic syndrome. she does not speak has intractable seizure disorder & is a blessing & precious in every way. bless you & your son. pam, blogless in burleson, tx, your "biggest fan". lol hugs a bunch. [email protected]
Pam, thank you for your wise words. I have an adult son with autism, and I know firsthand that life is not easy for a family with a disabled child. I can recall only a few times when I had to "educate" someone (an adult!) about my son's disability. I have found that the kids in our area/school system are very used to seeing special needs students in their school/classroom. Wishing you sunny days!!!
Well said! We all have to take our turn at educating people from time to time.
Everyone deserves love, we are all God's children. Thank you for sharing your personal story. I really think that those disadvantaged kids really teach us what love is all about because some of them really have nothing to live for except the love of their families.
I had to sleep on this post Pam. As you know, I work with special needs children now for 12 years now. Since, I work with pre-schoolers it's a bit different. But, as you know these kids grow up. In a world of hate and misunderstandings and lack of education. I hate to make excuses for this. Alot of the time it's lack of education. Yes, I know it's still not acceptable in any case. My only wish is that the middle/ high schools would teach our children of being different in today's society more so that this wouldn't even come up in conversation. Since I work with traditional and special needs kids we do just that. Teach them that in reality kids are kids whether they wear glasses, are in a wheel chair or speak or look differently. I love the book: We are all alike. We are all different. Teaching diversity in the classroom. Sometimes, we just need to be strong and keep fighting for what we belive in. I'm with you Friend. I HATE that word too!
Don't let this stop you though from being the BEST advocate you can be. Teach those who don't understand. I know you will, you do.
My husband hates this word. In fact, one of our kids said it once, and believe me, after he scolded them it was never said again. Thanks for sharing with us, Pam.
I am so with you on this one, I am astounded by how many seemingly intelligent adults jsut throw that word around as if it is nothing.