Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Spread the word to end the word- a guest post

This guest post comes to us by my friend incredible mama friend who goes by the pen name of Posy.  She is the mother of a beautiful, perfect little girl who was born just a little differently abled.  I'm really thankful that she decided to share this post because I feel like she took some of the words straight out of my mouth as a speech therapist.  

Respect others, respect yourself.  Please read on to hear her important message.

 We hear it so frequently that it’s not even noticeable. 

“That’s so retarded,” 

“That jerk in front of me is driving like a retard,” 

“Oh my God, are you retarded?!” 

Movies, books, T.V. shows all use it frequently as a go-to insult/comment.

To those of us who love someone with intellectual disabilities, physical differences, or any sort of special needs, it’s a punch to the head and gut, and it happens repeatedly every day.

Celebrities use it, writers use it, political commentators use it (yeah, I’m staring hard at you, Ann Coulter). Clinically speaking, “mentally retarded”, “retard” and “retarded” have all been eliminated from the vernacular describing special needs. Those with diminished mental capacity are called “intellectually disabled.” I highly doubt that the writers of Tropic Thunder would have used that.

I open my Facebook feed and every day at least one person uses the “r-word.” No one bats an eye. And I die a little inside. If I used the “N-word” willy-nilly there would be a mob after me. The difference is that the group being targeted by the former slur sometimes can’t stand up for themselves. Those of us who love them must be their defenders.

This has gone on long enough. Finally, people are starting to push for change - is an organization working to get people to pledge to never use the r-word again. They have set up Twitter alerts for when people use “retard” or any of its derivatives. They then politely send a private message asking the original commenter to cease the use of the word.

Unfortunately, more often than not this isn’t received well. A lot of “this is my first amendment right” gets thrown around.  Or “well I don’t mean actual people with special needs.” Whether or not these people are actively going after the special needs community, they are still throwing punches to the unguarded and, yes, they really do mean people with special needs.

Throwing around the r-word is taking away dignity, individuality, and self-respect for those with special needs. Even the federal government has removed the r-word from all health, education and labor policies.
The only r-word that should be used in a case like this is “respect.” These people deserve respect. Their families deserve respect. The people who tirelessly work with them to improve their life outcomes deserve respect.

Use of the r-word is hate speech. It’s just as insulting and harmful as going after religions, races, or cultures. It’s time to take the pledge. It’s time to show all people respect.

It’s time to Spread the Word to End the Word.

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