The “R” Word

My daughter is not retarded.

Ellie has Down Syndrome.  She looks a little different.  Her motor development is a little behind.  She may talk a little funny when she’s older.

Retard is a derogatory term used to put down or insult people with developmental delays.   It is no different as the words “nigger,” “spic,” or “fag.”

It does not matter if you mean to insult an entire group of people when you use these words.  Your intention does not matter.  It is still offensive.

Your friend is goofing around, acting foolish.  You say, “You’re such a nigger.”

You have just insulted every black person in the world.

Your friend is goofing around, acting foolish.  You say, “You’re such a retard.”

You have just insulted my daughter.

What was once acceptable fifty years ago is no longer acceptable today.  Why?  Because people made the effort to eradicate certain words from the vocabulary of the masses.

We need to eradicate the word “retard” from our vocabularies.  It is as simple as not using it, and speaking up when someone else does.

Because if we do not stop using the word, one of my worst nightmares will come true.

Someone will call my daughter a retard.  It will hurt her.  It will crush her bright, shining spirit.  It will make her cry.

In that one moment, someone will put that label on her, and it will stick with her.  No amount of comforting, self esteem building, or encouragement will be able to erase what that moment will do to her.  She will always remember how small and sad she felt in that moment.  Even when she has grown up into a strong, passionate woman, that word will still hold a power over her.

Do you want it to be your thoughtless word, or the thoughtless word of your children that cuts my daughter to the quick?

My daughter is not retarded.

Please help me stop the use of the word, so she never has to hear it.

4 thoughts on “The “R” Word

  1. My mom was a special ed teacher and has been on a crusade against this word from day one. I dont understand how you feel but I do understand the hurt this word can and does cause and support you completely!

  2. Ellie is a beautiful girl. And when you look at her I swear you can see her soul. What Ellie is is a gift, a little miracle that reminds me how amazing this world is.

  3. Thank you thank you thankyou for writing this post. My son is autistic, my daughter has Aspergers, and I also have Aspergers. My best friend has spina bifida, and most of my other close friends are on the autism spectrum too. I HATE HATE HATE the “r” word.
    My mother used to use the excuse “well it was okay to say that back in MY day”.
    Ummmm, no it wasn’t – it’s just that no one really said much about it. Not as much as they do now, anyway.
    Both your girls are gorgeous 🙂 Cute little things.

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