"The R Word"

Written By:  Heather Foll

re·tard·ed ritärdid/

adjective: retarded

1. less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one’s age.

Some feel that when it is used as slang it is offensive, others feel that those people are “too sensitive” or too “politically correct” but nowhere in the above meaning do you find the word “stupid,” “ugly,” “dumb” or any other derrogative.

We live in a society where not only do children use this word to describe something they find to be stupid, annoying or intolerable, but so do some adults.image1   The words retard and retarded have been turned into slang in an ugly way.

   My brother, who is four years younger than me, was born with Down Syndrome. Down Syndrome is a genetic condition in which a person has 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46. (My brother, may I add, wears that extra chromosome like a rock star.)  My parents never sat me down and had any kind of talk with me about my brother being “different.” The reason they never did was simple – he’s not. He walks, runs, talks, grieves, tells jokes, plays sports, cries, gets mad, has pet peeves and works for a living just like the rest of us. He also laughs, hugs and makes time to really talk and listen to others much more than the rest of us. Because of this, in comparison, I feel as though the rest of us are the ones who are “disabled”.   We tend to hold in our emotions.  We refrain from hugging one another.   We don’t take the time to find out how someone else is truly doing.  We hold back loud laughter or try not to cry with or for someone.   We, in return, are the ones who are “handicapped”.

 We live in a society where not only do children use this word to describe something they find to be stupid, annoying or intolerable, but so do some adults.

Teach your children that using the word “retarded” as slang is simply not nice. It can be hurtful to those who are disabled or to those who love someone who is disabled.

We are all one accident, one severe illness, one life-changing moment from becoming disabled ourselves. When you are expecting a child, no one can guarantee that your baby will not be born with a disability.  Imagine what it might feel like to hear the “R Word” used as a slur towards you or your child or used to describe something as being “stupid”.   Words can hurt.

Let’s lift each other up and be super heroes to one another.

Let’s make the new “R Word” be RESPECT.

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