Monday, October 13, 2014

The R Word

What would Down Syndrome Awareness Month be without a post about the R word?

The word "retard" and "retarded" were words that use to be used to describe individuals like my daughter Sophia.  In the medical field she would have been referred to as being "mentally retarded", or slow in development.  But today, those words, "retard" and "retarded", are no longer acceptable and are no longer being tolerated by people like myself.

When have you heard these words and felt like the person using them were giving a compliment to someone, or something, else?  Very likely, never.  When people use the R word, it's not used as a compliment, it's used as an insult.  Society has turned the R word into a slang term that means dumb or stupid.  Even in the medical and educational fields the term "mentally retarded" should no longer be used, but instead it should be replaced with the term "intellectual disability", thanks to Rosa's Law.

It's important to me that people not use the R word.  It's important to my family that people not use the R word.  It's important to a lot of people involved in the special needs communities that society not use the R word.  And one day, it will be important to my daughter Sophia that people not use the R word.

As a parent to daughter who has an intellectual disability, I advocate for my daughter every day.  I push for her to be included, accepted, and respected as a person.  This is one less battle that I would like to fight as my daughter gets older.  It's just a word, I get that.  But to me, it's a very powerful word, that holds a lot of hate and disrespect.

There is a campaign called, Spread the Word to End the Word.  This campaign asks people to pledge to stop saying the R word as a starting point toward creating more accepting attitudes and communities for all people.  Language affects attitudes and attitudes affect actions.  Go HERE to learn more about the pledge, and pledge today to use respectful, people-first language!

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