28 June 2013

"What do they think, I'm retarded or something?"

"I forgot my lunch money today, I am so retarded."

"Wow, that outfit looks retarded."

"What do they think, I'm retarded or something?"

Have you used one of these phrases?  Sadly, I can think of a time in my past life.. my life before Luke... that I probably carelessly used the word "retarded".  It wasn't something that I did with malicious intent, quite honestly I'm not sure I even knew what I was really saying.... it was just a slang phrase people used.  Everyone said it... that makes it okay, right?

I never took the time to think how that one-little-six-letter word could demean an entire population of people.  Webster defines retard as "to make slow; delay the development or progress of (an action, process, etc.); hinder or impede."  I can recall times when I've heard the word used in proper accordance with it's definition, but more often than not I've heard it used in it's slang form.  I'm sad that until I learned that my son would wear the title of "mentally retarded" that I never took the time to question why society thought it was okay to use it in place of words like stupid, dumb, and ugly. 

Remember that little rhyme "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me"?  Remember how regardless of whether you said it out loud to others or quietly to yourself, you knew it wasn't true?  Words can and do hurt.  Even when they are said without malicious intent, they can still be painful. 

Here is my call to action for you... If you catch yourself saying the R word, stop and re-phrase your thoughts.  When you hear others say it, ask them to find another way to express themselves.  Don't do it for me... do it so my son and others with Down syndrome don't get their hearts broken when they hear someone say, "What do they think, I'm retarded or something?"

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