"Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be." - Shel Silverstein

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's Just a Word, Right?

Technically, yes.  

Retarded is a clinical term used to describe an individual with developmental delays and intellectual disabilities.  Medically speaking, mental retardation and retarded are still appropriate words to use.  However, more and more medical professionals are choosing to eliminate that terminology and use the more politically correct terms of developmental delay, developmental disability and intellectually disabled.

Unfortunately, the word retarded or retard is used more often in our society by people who are directing it at someone else as an insult.  The word is used to refer to a person who is acting stupid.   The word is used to shame someone, to indicate they are not smart. 

I will admit to using this word in the past.  I have used it in the same derogatory manner I described above.  I was wrong.

Marissa has not been described as mentally retarded, nor has she been labeled intellectually disabled.  She has been described as having some degree of developmental delay.  

Regardless, as a parent of a special needs child, I have come to recognize that using the "r word" in any way other than the clinical medical definition is wrong.  As a society, we have deemed certain words inappropriate.  For some reason, retarded and retard are still acceptable words to use as insults.

All I am asking is that you stop and think before you use these words.  Teach your children that the use of these words as an insult to someone is wrong.  Teach them that there are people in this world who these words apply to, that these people are human beings with feelings that get hurt, and often don't have the capability to defend themselves against insults.  Teach them to respect others who are different from them.

Make "respect" the new "r word".

Click on the link below to learn more.


Thank you.


Hope said...

I also admit to using it in a derogatory manner before Christian was pronounced "developmentally delayed" and have since stopped. To be honest, he's labeled at "MR" already and it bothers me that they can't think of a better term. The word retarded has such a bad stigma. I don't know what the future holds for our little ones, but I do know they are loved greatly. ((Hugs)) to you, Alicia! You are a wonderful Mother, advocate and friend.

Queen Mommy said...

When I was pregnant with the twins, we'd been told there was a chance they might both have Down's.

As I was awaiting the results of the amnio, I will never forget an experience we had. At the time, we were staying with my husband's cousin for a few days because I was doing my medical care in the City, 2-1/2 hours away from home. (Because things with the girls were rapidly progressing to a scary place, it was decided that we needed to find a place to live in the City.)

One day she and her son were talking about something, and she said, right in front of me, "What are you, retarded?" (He was pretending to NOT know how to do something that he clearly DID know how to do, and was likely just being lazy about it.) While I know she never would have said it to be offensive to me, just the same, when you're waiting to hear whether or not your babies have Down's Syndrome, hearing the "R" word was like being punched in the stomach.

I know she wasn't saying it to be cruel, so I chose to let it go. In fact, I don't know that I've ever mentioned this before, EVER. I've thought about it a few times as I've retold the story, but each time, I choose to leave this part out because I don't want to make her feel worse about having said it.

Believe me, my children will know that the "R" word is never an appropriate insult!

Jessica mommy to Alex/ RTS said...

I got your back Marissa!

The VW's said...

WOO HOO! Great job! Thanks for standing up for those who can't stand up for themselves!!!

Rachel Marini said...

i think it is wonderful to raise awarenes on the implications this word has. i too am guilty of carelessly using it before growing up a little bit and then having Gabe encounter neurological issues. now it has made me so much more aware of my use of words like this. thanks for the reminder!!!! best wishes to you all,

Finding Normal said...


Janice said...

When I was there last May visiting, Jeremy said something very quietly, almost under his breath that just shook my heart to the core. We were watching Marissa play, admiring everything about her, when a silent moment passed between us. Very softly I heard Jeremy say, "They're going to make fun of her in school." To hear my son's fear for his baby brings all the cruelties in this world up close and personal. It hurts!! All I wanted to do was make it not so. But, there's a good chance that will happen to Marissa just like it happens to other children who are not pagent quality.

Thanks to all of you for speaking out against the "r" word for our children and grandchildren.

Grandma Utah
(I loved the picture of her in green sitting on the floor too....frame it!)

Myssie said...

I got your back Marissa!!

Anonymous said...

Oh man I just read Janice's comment and almost cried!!! Probably because its true but knowing marissa....it will just build on her personality!!!! I love her so much and can't wait for another visit!! Love love love!
Auntie Taters