Retard a word in the English language and one that this past week I have heard used not only by some children but by grown adults, our sports athletes, our celebrity’s and family members all in reference to other children some with special needs, to adults, to our President and other government officials.
It is a word that, to me is totally NOT acceptable and for someone to use an excuse such as, “The word retard has a different meaning in today’s society then when it was first said in the medical field”, is quite frankly NOT an excuse for the use of the word in anyway joking or not. Honestly their is NO EXCUSE for the use of that word under any circumstance.
The word Retard is derogatory
it is hate speech
it is offensive
it is ignorant
it is hateful and unkind
Children and / or adults with special needs and learning disabilities are certainly NOT retarded, they are not incapable of learning, in fact quite the opposite, they are teachers. How, you might ask? Simple. They teach us things that seem to take an entire lifetime for some of us to learn; quite frankly they teach us things that we, as adults and individuals, honestly should not need to be taught.
They teach us about unconditional love, they teach us about compassion, they teach us about how our differences make us unique, they teach us how to value one another as human beings. They teach us that,“Disability is NOT Inability”. Words matter. People don’t need to scoff at others to make a point.
“Everyone has a gift and the world would be better off if we recognized it.”
– Tim Shriver, CEO of Special Olympics.
What people still don’t seem to get or understand is just that “Words Matter” and “People Matter”. When I was in 3rd Grade I had trouble comprehending what I read, had trouble in math, my teacher called me stupid and from that day I never liked school didn’t apply myself stopped caring because I believed what she said I believed I was stupid. So yes “Words Matter.” “Children Matter” – what you say to them sticks with them for a lifetime.
I am the President and Founder of the Epilepsy Warriors Foundation so you may be wondering why I am posting about the use of this word. Well, as parents and caregivers of children that have special needs (one of which is Epilepsy), it’s our job and responsibility to do what we can to advocate and fight for all children with special needs.
Now you may be asking what you can do, how can you help or contribute to the Spread the Word to End The Word campaign….
Begin by “Taking Action”. Things do not get done unless one gets up and does something about it. I am challenging everyone who reads this post to STAND UP and TAKE ACTION by signing the “PLEDGE” on the Spread the Word to End The Word website. By taking this pledge you are stating that you believe in acceptance for and equality for all with disabilities.
Visit their website. There you’ll find ways you can advocate for the campaign in your own community, as well as ideas and scenarios on how to speak to family and friends when they use the word in front of you or your children.
Let today be the day we start to look for the good in everyone we meet and respect their journey. Children and adults with special needs are our gifts. They are special because of who they are, not their disabilities. It’s time to step up and be a leader. To handle yourself, use your head. To handle others, use your heart.
“The greatest leaders are not necessarily the ones who do the greatest things they are the ones that get people to do the greatest things.”
Take the Pledge!