The “R” Word

These days political correctness is a big deal. People are so afraid about offending someone that we all watch what we say. Discrimination and prejudice is a real problem, and it deserves attention. We should be considerate to those around us. Racial slang is not ok. As a society, we know this. There is one word though that does not get the same attention. A word that has become slang, an insult. A word that people don’t find politically incorrect, yet it is a word that cuts me like a knife when I hear it. The “R” word…..Retarded.

Even before I had a child with special needs I hated that word. It is now a word that hurts me because it defines my daughter.

Definition of RETARDED:  slow or limited in intellectual or emotional development or academic progress

By that definition any child with any learning disability can fit into that category. My daughter, my princess falls into this definition. One of my biggest fears is that one day someone she loves will use this word as a slang word, and that she will hear. That she will recognize that people say it about her.

Why is it ok to say that something is retarded, but it is not ok to use other words? Why do we have to be sensitive to sexual orientation, gender, race, body type, and not be sensitive to mental capabilities? Do we assume that people who have limited development do not understand, so it is therefor alright?

Well, as a parent of a disabled child with limited mental capabilities, I can say it is not ok. It is not ok to use it as an insult. It is not ok to use it as slang, and it is not ok to use it as a label. Mental retardation is a condition. It can not be helped. It was not a choice.

Please remember that children learn from watching. When a child hears a parent use a word, it is in their vocabulary. If we want to see a change in the accepted normals in society, it comes from teaching our children not only in words, but also in example.


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