Spread the Word to End the Word

This is the most important thing I’ll say today.

I’m a mom of a kid with special powers. Sometimes people say he has special needs. Other times people say things that are terribly hurtful, sometimes without the intention to be mean. The r-word is one of those things. It’s always a painful thing to hear, even when they’re not referring to my son.

Did you know this fact? “‘Mental retardation’ was once a clinical diagnosis. When the words ‘retard’ and ‘retarded’ became derogatory slang, however, modern-day organizations, doctors and schools quit using that diagnosis.”

How about this one? “In 2010, Congress dropped the terms ‘mental retardation’ and ‘mentally retarded’ in federal health, education and labor laws and replaced them with ‘intellectual disability’ — and 43 states have passed similar legislation.” True story. Read more facts here.

Bottom line: Like all derogatory slang, there’s no reason to use the r-word. Ever. 

Today is the day we spread the word to end the word. Will you join me?

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Will you consider leaving a quick comment of support for other parents of kids (and kids with) special powers? Sometimes we just need to know we’re not alone.

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
15 comments
  1. LOVE this! YAY!

  2. The Portland TrailBlazers just had a huge promotion on this important issue too…http://www.r-word.org/r-word-nba-spreads-the-word.aspx

  3. I come from a big Italian family and so many words are dropped around my home. The f-bomb was know as my Papa’s special plumbing word. However, the r-word is not and will not be tolerated in my house or around me. I am very vocal about this and have even had friends apologize to me when they let it slip (and then truly try to end the habit of saying it in the first place).

    The word retarded was still used for diagnostic purposes when I started teaching special education a million years ago. As a matter of fact, my teaching certificate states that I am certified to teach kids with MR (mental retardation). It’s sad that the reason the term is no longer used is not to be more polite, or politically correct, but because it has been so misused by the general public that it is seen as something that is negative and derogatory. Do you know what the diagnostic term that came before retarded was? Idiot.

    History repeats itself. Let’s all be mindful and work to be part of solutions.

  4. Never EVER alone. My sibs and I (18, 20, 24) all work with kids with special needs and we’ve got your back!

  5. My friend, Eric, who is always rad, shared this on Facebook: “”Retard” is an easy word to pick up and it may seem funny sometimes. Especially the way Zach says it. It probably doesn’t seem like a big deal to a lot of people, and until recently I didn’t realize that it was a hurtful thing for many. I’ve pretty much stopped using it since then. It still comes out in the heat of the moment sometimes, unfortunately. Anyway, it’s something to consider, cause hurting people’s feelings is for dillhosers.”

    Honest. True. You know what? Perfection can bite me. Thoughtful change is always welcome at my house.

  6. My daughter has always been in an inclusive classroom setting in which she learned along side kids with special powers. She was horrified the first time she heard the r word. It’s never OK, it’s hurtful, and we’ll keep spreading the word to end the word.

  7. We don’t use the “r-word” in our family. And we’ll spread the word to end the word.

  8. We have this campaign going at the high school where I teach in Tennessee. Much needed!!

  9. Special powers – YES. These kids have their own gifts and talents and strengths and skills and they are SO VALUABLE. I long to live in a world where this is recognised and where there is not such a very great emphasis on “succeeding at school”. Those of us who believe this need to shout it from the rooftops and shift the balance. I hope that many, many people comment on and share this post. None of you are alone, and you are all appreciated and valued and loved. Never forget that.

  10. Absolutely! I hate hearing it, especially since I learned that it was offensive and inappropriate when I was a child, which was a really, really long time ago. People do it so often, without meaning to be rude, and just haven’t figured it out yet, for reasons beyond my understanding. Glad there’s a ‘spread the word’ campaign!

  11. Amen! It’s long since time that word was dead, buried, and gone.

    To a certain extent, I’ll use it as a litmus test. If you can’t express yourself without the use of the r-word, then I pretty much know that there’s nothing you have to say that I need to hear.

    That people need to insult other people by comparing them to my son confirms that.

  12. I have a beautiful, awesome mommy on my mom’s board that has a sweet 8 month old baby boy with special powers. We love him no less because of his powers, in fact he makes all of our lives richer. I hate the word, and cringe when I hear it used, even if it’s not meant to be derogatory. Words do hurt, and once said it can not be unsaid, we can only ask for forgiveness for our ignorance. Hugs mommas. 🙂

  13. Three cheers for special powers!! I’m deep in it at the moment but thank-you so much for getting the word out on the reframe. Words matter people!! And thank-you legislatures and doctors for getting on board. The new DSM should be out soon(or is it already out?) with MR nowhere to be found.

    1. You introduced me to the term “special powers,” Heather, and when my son makes me crazy because he’s a KID and ALL KIDS CAN MAKE US CRAZY, it helps to look for the power. Reframe, indeed.

      R is for REALLY RAD. Let’s make it so.

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