My thoughts on the "R" word
The "R" word. It's used casually on a daily basis. It's used between friends, colleagues and even acquaintances. It's used loosely when talking about a dumb action or decision made by and individual or ones self. It's used to mock or degrade some one and refer to them as slow or stupid. It's not a word anyone would choose to actually be. Let's make a confession here. I've been guilty of using that word much too frequently. I never used it with the intent to offend or pain anyone, ever! But it was pretty ignorant of me to not even think about the true meaning behind such a powerful word. I'm ashamed to admit it and wish I had chosen to broaden my vocabulary much earlier than I did. But truth be told, it took having a baby with DS to understand the hurt behind that word. To be more honest, even then I didn't even grasp it right away. I remember being asked on a couple of occasions when Welles was just born, how I felt about that word and I remember saying things like Eh, I don't care if it's not being said directly to him or No, it's silly to get so worked up over a word so commonly used. And then month-by-month Welles stopped looking like a cute mushy baby with almond shaped eyes and started looking more like a beautiful baby who obviously had Down syndrome. Then he started doing adorable corky little things that lots of babies with DS do (hand gestures, face expressions, funny sounds). I could tell by the smiling faces at basketball games and the grocery store, they weren't wondering anymore. He was growing into his looks and his diagnosis was becoming more clear (to me, it enhanced his edible cuteness!). Finally it sank in deeply... My thoughts changed to So help the kid that calls him retarded! and I hope some of my friends and family who use that word out of habit, will stop.
I know individuals with DS that are old enough to understand the mock behind the "R" word and you better believe it's personal to them.
The results for the word "Retarded" in The Webster Dictionary are as follows; Slow or limited in intellectual or emotional development or academic progress.
When someone uses that word they are (even if unintentionally) mocking individuals with delays. No one deserves to be defined by limits, which is exactly what that definition does.
Look at that face and tell me you won't feel crummy next time you hear that word. Do Welles a favor and kindly encourage others to find a replacement for the "R" word. Spread the love!