Thursday, January 17, 2013

The R Word

When friends encouraged me a few years ago to write this blog for Down Syndrome awareness  and my own sanity, I thought, does Down Syndrome really need people to be made aware?  I mean, we all know about this stuff, right?  And then, the vary same day, a friend asked me "I know it's not politically  correct to say retarded, so do they use the word Down Syndrome now?"  I was speechless which, if you know me, happens a lot in this kind of situation.  My friend wasn't trying to be rude, she trusted me and really wanted to know.  

The word retarded is almost always used out of context, that's why we don't know.   Mentally retarded has very long medical definitions, lets just say... 
Mentally less advanced than is usual for one's age.

It's a generalized disorder, which means a lot of disabilities include "mentally retarded" in there definitions including Down Syndrome.  

Now that we got that out of the way, what does retarded really mean?  Forget politically correct, calling someone retarded is crewel.  The last time you heard the R word, what was the person saying? "That's so retard", "He is so retarded!", "It's so retarded..." This is not a medical diagnosis. The R word has acquired a new definition like cool or hot.  What is someone saying when they call a person "a retard"? 

Stupid, less then, undesirable, pathetic, so glad I'm not like you... 

It hurts when people use this word because of all the baggage the word carries.  You are not the man last week who yelled "retard!" out his window driving past the bus stop where a lovely, young girl with down syndrome was waiting, I know that, but it is the same, hurtful word.   

With compassion and understanding I know it's not to slam my daughter each time someone throws out that words but please, please think about it.  It's a bad habit for most of us, that's all.  Lets brake it!  Just because you "don't mean it like that" does not give you a free pass to say it.  Just because I don't mean to use the F word, oops, doesn't mean it's not offensive.  Your parents said it, now you say it.  Lets stop it for our friends, family and children.  Let's stop it for Claire, I know you love her.  They will say what they hear.  Let's teach respect for all people to our impressionable youth. 

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