Imagine this. You're hanging out with your friends. There's at least 4 of you. You decide to try to do some new trick. Epic fail. You fall flat on your face. Your friends crack up hysterically, because let's face it, when it happens to someone else, it's pretty funny. Then one says "You really thought you could do that?! You're such a retard!!"
Imagine this as well. You're reading the new dress code at your local school. What?! Only blue jeans are allowed? No shorts? Not even in summer?! That is such a retarded rule. Who ever came up with that is retarded.
Now, imagine that you said all that out loud, next to a group of parents who have special needs kids. Or what if you said that right in front of those special needs kids? Loud enough for them to hear. Do you have any idea just how offensive that is?
Let's get something straight. I have no problem with it being used properly. Some people are mentally retarded. Children's pajamas are flame retardant. Some things have been proven to retard your growth. Those are all acceptable ways to use that word. Calling someone retarded because they did something stupid? Not acceptable. Using that term to describe something you don't believe is right? Not acceptable. Retard does NOT mean stupid. Stupid means stupid. Unfair means unfair.
My son has some learning disabilities. Stupid, he is not. He is many things. He is
a member of the SWAT team:
and a storyteller:
Most importantly, he is Anthony. My son. A wise friend once told me that a child's disabilities are a part of them. They don't define him or her.
Speaking of said friend. This is her daughter Emily. She has Down syndrome. She is not "that downs baby". She is not stupid. She is
a gamer (a pretty chatty one, too!):
a mess maker.
a Beauty Queen.
your typically happy-go-lucky toddler.
Most importantly, she is Emily. A BEAUTIFUL 6 year old girl, who happens to have a little something extra.
Another friend of mine has an almost 4 year old daughter. She has SPD as well. A more severe case than my son has. Krista's speech is also delayed. It is sometimes hard to understand her. She is in OT for her speech and sensory issues. Stupid? Definitely not. She is
a water baby:
a mud-pie baker:
a ham for the camera:
But most importantly, she is Krista. A 3 year old whose 4th birthday is being celebrated in a few days. My son's best friend.
If you happened to look around before you spoke, and saw them, would you still proceed to call your friend a "retard" for doing something stupid? Or would you not care? Would you even understand just how hurtful that would be, not only to our children, but to us as parents? Our children are not stupid. They are very bright. They may not show you just how intelligent they are, but we see things every day that we're told they would never do. Emily's mom can attest to just how true that is.
Emily's mom also said "Why do we need to use labels at all? Labels are for jars and my daughter is not a jar. The R word is hateful as is any word that deems my child somehow "different" than anyone else. Her name is Emily. She has Down syndrome. Call her Emily and she will answer."
Won't you take the pledge with us?