Monday, September 15, 2014

"That" Word….the one that makes me cringe

I certainly was not going to be writing about this, but I have heard this word one too many times lately and think it warrants a post.

Do you know what word I am talking about?  It's the "R" word.

Retarded.  Used in a sentence stating "I feel so retarded" or "I felt so retarded".

Every time I hear this word I cringe inside.  I really do.  Why, probably due to the fact I have a child with special needs.

People use this word all the time, so often you don't even realize it.  You do!  You use it to describe how you feel when you can't get something to work (i.e. a new iPhone).  You use it to describe how you felt when you injured yourself doing something silly.  You use it to describe people you don't know.  You use it when you do something you feel silly about.  You use it.

What is the definition of retarded?

I am not disagreeing with the definition, but I do think we should use a different word as the word retarded is hardly ever used correctly anymore.  What I am disagreeing with is the misuse of the word.

For the person who can't figure out how to work a new iPhone or when you push the door that says pull, then you say you feel "retarded" because you can not figure out how to make something work, I don't think you consider yourself "slow in intellectual or emotional development or academic progress".  Or the person who injured themselves in a silly way, do you feel  "limited" in your development or academic progress.  Rather for all instances you probably just felt ABSURD or SILLY or CHILDLIKE?!?!

You never know who may be in your company when you use this word.  They may be a parent, grandparent, sibling, teacher, etc., of a child who is truly a little bit slower in their development intellectually or with their academic progress.  How does that make them feel?  They certainly would not characterize what you are describing with the struggles they see their loved one face every single day.

When you use the word retarded can you honestly tell me that is how you truly felt?  Do you know what it feels like to work ten times harder than your classmates just to type your name?  I say type because for my daughter she can not hold a pen/pencil to write words.  Do you know what it feels like to get so frustrated emotionally because you can not use your words to tell the world what is wrong, because your brain is wired in such a way you are considered non-verbal?  Do you know what it feels like to be 13 and have someone help you eat, because it is hard for you to eat with utensils…by yourself?

I don't think you do.  And I do not know either.  However, I live with my daughter who has Rett Syndrome and I watch her work her ass off daily in everything she does to be stronger so she can do all she can do for herself.

When I look at her I don't see her limitations, I see her accomplishments.   I see someone who I look up to and respect.  I see someone who would love to operate an iPhone to call her friends.  I see someone who would love to open the back door and go run free.  I see someone who would love to have injured herself from doing something funny and not have to wear a brace to keep her foot on the ground…so she can not walk on her toes.  I see someone brave.

Next time you say this word, the word that falls so freely from so many people's mouths, think before you speak.  Think if you would want your child to start using this word to describe a friend.   Think if you would want your child to use this word to describe how they feel.  Think if you had a child with extra challenges, would you want to hear "I feel so retarded" when someone is talking to you.

When the time comes and you feel the need to say the "R-Word" I ask you to please try and Replace it with something different.  There are so many other words to express how you truly feel during these times.  And trust me, there are more appropriate adjectives for you to use!

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