Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Retarded and Respect

"That movie was retarded."
Translation: "That was the worst movie I've ever seen."

"Seriously I can't believe you did that. You're such a retard."
Translation: "Wow you're an idiot."

"Hahahaha, that was the most retarded thing I've ever seen."
Translation:"That just took STUPID to a new level."

"That outfit doesn't go together at all. It looks so retarded."
Translation:"That looks horrible!"

Whether or not you've found yourself saying that word in such a context, sadly, many other people have.

Unfortunately, society has taught us that it's a cool word to slip into everyday vocabulary. Hollywood still uses it. Popular books still use it.

Maybe you have never even considered why this might be a problem or an offense. I'm not here to judge you if you have said it in the past or find it on the tip of your tongue now.

But I am here to help you become aware of what it means and why saying it isn't in anyone's best interest.

Retardto make slow; delay the development or progress of; hinder or impede.

The truth is-
my daughter is retarded.

Beautiful Addison who I love more than anything holds the medical diagnosis of "mentally retarded".

Every time you flippantly replace "horrible", "stupid" or "idiotic" with the word "retarded" you might as well replace it with "Addison" instead.

and that hurts. more than I could ever express to you.

Because if you know Addison AT ALL you know that she is neither "stupid" or "idiotic" or "horrible".
She is a gorgeous, sweet, curious, amazing, SMART little girl.

"Be the bigger person"
"Words can't hurt you"
"Stop being so sensitive- it's just a word!"

You may give excuses as to why the offense is my fault, but the truth is?
This is about making the world a more accepting place- a place full of dignity and respect for ALL. I can just stay in my corner, wiping away the tears from seeing people I love dearly place this word on their facebook status in a laughable fashion. I can tuck away the hurt and deal with it the same way I deal with other hurts that may come my way.

But that won't help the world accept Addison or others with intellectual disabilities. That won't raise awareness that an entire population segment right now is being degraded through every day conversation under the guise of being cool and hip.

Addison is a person- just like you and me.

and she deserves all the respect and dignity that you can offer because everything that comes so easily to you and me, she has to work at least TWICE as hard to achieve. That deserves admiration and hey-RESPECT

and part of that means

please. cut it out of your vocabulary. Just don't say it!

I am begging you.

and someday?
Addison will thank you too.



  1. I agree so much with this, Deanna. I do not have a DS child, but I have been privileged to know many people with DS and I personally hate when I hear someone use these words in that way. My children will know that this is never appropriate. Thanks for posting.

  2. We never purposefully used the word in our home. Since having my daughter we have become super viligant about not using the word and teaching our other children it is never appropriate. Sometimes a little awareness is all that is necessary. Bravo to all who stand up and say this word is never appropriate.

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  4. Thank you so much for sharing that deanna. Awareness is the key. I will never use that word so flippently again!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing that deanna. Awareness is the key. I will never use that word so flippently again!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing that deanna. Awareness is the key. I will never use that word so flippently again!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing that deanna. Awareness is the key. I will never use that word so flippently again!

  8. Brilliant article, Deanna. Everyone should have the JOY of living with a child with DS. Our grandson is not only smart, but a hard worker who has persistence that surpasses most people, and he is only 7. Keep up the good work. People need to get beyond themselves no matter who they re dealing with.

  9. Very well put...do you mind if I share on my blog and/or facebook?

  10. Very well put. I have a blog post about this, too. My wonderful grandbaby is on the autism spectrum and I anticipate this happening to her, too. Bless you!

  11. Tears in my eyes already this morning. I try to save your blogs for the nightime :P
    I would love to share your whole post on my blog would that be okay? I couldn't have put it better, as a matter of fact no one could.

  12. Just read this to my students. Thank you for reminding us that it's not cool to use the "r" word.

  13. Deanna, I' m catching up with old posts and just read you were asking about a childproof case for ipad. Fisher Price has just released one, just in case you want to check.

  14. This is so powerful. If anyone reading this still insists on using that word, then they are incapable of human decency.

  15. Thank you, Deanna. I've never read your blog until today, but you have so many good things to say. I had never thought about the use of the word "retarded" in that way before. I always thought, well that's not what people mean when they say it. But, after reading this I think you are completely right.

  16. Just read this and shared on facebook, thank you so very much for this post. I have strong feelings of my own on the matter. Thought you might be interested (if you have time in your cyberfame to read this comment) in this bit that I wrote originally on my blog in january (http://callmecrazycbus.blogspot.com/2012/01/heart-for-adoption-part-i.html)

    "My childhood friends can recount for you how hurt I would become when someone used the word "retard" as an insult. I used to solemnly tell them that someone I loved died of Down Syndrome, and to please not use that word around me again. By middle school, against my better judgement, I'd taken to slapping or kicking anyone who dared to use the "R" word around me. I remember a particular instance in Washington D.C. There was this girl - her name was either Ashley or Nicole, she couldn't seem to decide. So I just generally referred to her as AshleyNicole. We were at a dinner theater, a dress-up event (which we were underdressed for due to a snafu with the planning of the trip) and one on which we were expected to be on our best behavior. Then AshleyNicole used the R word, and when I told why it hurt me, she said "Too bad". So I slapped her. Now, growing up, I was the literal definition of teacher's pet. You'd sooner find me eating worms than breaking a rule, particularly an important rule. And, being 14, AshleyNicole of course went straight to the teacher chaperoning our group and informed her that I'd just slapped her. When the teacher asked why, she told her the truth. I'll not forget the way that teacher handled that situation. She sternly chastised the girl for misusing the word, then turned to me and said something along the lines of "Perhaps hitting people isn't the best way to get your point across that you're hurt by their words". I nodded. AshleyNicole fumed with the injustice that I hadn't immediately been kicked off the trip and sent home. I stopped hitting people for saying the R word. I didn't stop speaking up."

    It heartens me to know that there are others out there who will speak up too. Thank you.

  17. This post is so true. I am a special education teacher who has many students with DS. I hate hate hate when people use that word. I also coach volleyball at the high school I work at. My volleyball girls would use the word until I sat down with them one day and explained to them what they were saying. Many of them know and love my students but never put 2 and 2 together. They stopped saying the word (at least around me). Our special education department joined the spread the word to end the word campaign and sell t-shirts at the school and have students and teachers sign a pledge saying they will stop using the word.


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