Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The "R-Word" Effect

Let me first off start by saying that I have done the very thing I'm writing about today. Many times. Thankfully I have grown up emotionally and have a lot more empathy than I used to. Being a special needs mom will do that to you (hopefully) :)

This post is about a word that makes me cringe every time I hear it. It's been used in a derogatory fashion so many times that it is no longer a used medical term.

The word you've probably already guessed is "retard" or "retarded".

I've heard countless people say "that is SO retarded!" since Boog was diagnosed with Autism. Autism is not a form of retardation, but all of us "special people" like to stick together. Safety in numbers and all. I'm sure you can see why.

About a year ago I was at a craft store and two women were loudly shopping near me. Grown women, probably in their mid-thirties. I had already found their loud tone to be irritating (maybe Boog isn't the only one with sensory issues). I decided to go to another isle. I found what I was looking for and got in line to check out. Guess who got behind me? Yep. Them. Still loud and giggling. Please remember these are adult, nicely dressed women. They were buying craft projects for their children.

While waiting for my turn to check out, I heard one of them say very loudly, "I forgot glue! I am so RETARDED!" and her friend started laughing.

Mama-Bear had finally had enough.

I turned around and in a very calm a voice told the woman that using that word is not only offensive, but hurtful. Her rebuttal was that she was speaking about herself, not making fun of someone. I tried to explain by using the word in that way, it shows that you believe a disability is something bad, wrong, derogatory, and funny.

SIDENOTE: Thanks a lot to the Black Eyed Peas for releasing a song titled "Let's Get Retarded". Oh, you didn't know that was the original lyric? It was changed to "It Started" so it could be played on the radio. Because the word is too OFFENSIVE to be played on national radio. Thanks a lot, Fergie. I'm kinda glad you peed your pants on stage that time (oops...sorry).

Anyway, the only thing that really happened at the craft store was embarrassing a woman initially. In the long run I really hoped I would make her think the next time she started to use the word, and maybe her friend too.

Look, I know slip ups happen. Do you know how many times I almost use a very improper colorful word in front of Boog? Way more than I care to admit!

I'm just asking you to think about it. What the word "retarded" really means to you. Does it mean defective? Silly? Odd? Okay, then next time use that word instead :)

Trust me, everyone that is connected to a special needs persons of any kind really appreciates it.