“Sticks and stones may hurt my bones
But words will never hurt me”
Or so the saying goes. But really, words do hurt. Retard. Retarded. The word ‘retard’ or ‘retarded’ evokes many feelings and typically they are not very good feelings. The actual meaning of retard, according to Webster’s Dictionary is “to slow up especially by preventing or hindering advance or accomplishment”. In the medical setting, retarded means “slow or limited in intellectual or emotional development or academic progress”. These days, the word has taken on a different meaning, used in a negative spirited way.
I am the mother of children who carry numerous clinical diagnoses, one of which is “mental retardation”. According to doctors and educational professionals, this title gives a ‘name’ to their learning style, it doesn’t describe my children.
“Slow or limited in intellectual or emotional development or academic progress”. I can’t say that I totally agree with that definition. When I see my little monkeys, I see two talented and beautiful kids, full of personality! I don’t see an ‘autistic boy’. He is my precious boy who happens to have a mitochondrial disease and an autism diagnosis.
I don’t have an ‘autistic daughter’, I have a very spunky daughter who occasionally struggles due to sensory processing disorder and autism.
Despite the numerous labels that each medical professional has handed down, they are still the best teachers I have had. Every day, I am taught that there is always always, always something to be grateful for. There will always be a reason to smile. Dance anytime you want, any way you want, because we should celebrate every moment of every day. Patience is truly a virtue and hard work will pay off one day. Who wouldn’t respect a teacher who taught those lessons?
My everyday teachers and heroes are my children! Would you treat your hero with anything less than dignity, reverence and love. Take the pledge, choose your words wisely. Make the new ‘R word’ #RESPECT
“I pledge #Respect thru my words & actions. Will you? Pledge now to create communities of inclusion for people with ID http://r-word.org“