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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

"I didn't mean your kid."

Really?  Who's kid did you mean?   When you let the word "retard" or the phrase "that's just retarded" fly out of your mouth.  I shouldn't be upset because you didn't mean my kid.

Listen up.  It's 2013.  Get hip with the lingo. The "R" word is no longer cool.  In my mind, long before I even had the kiddo, it wasn't cool.  Buy a thesaurus.  Find another word.

Stop using this term to equate the neurological make up of my kid to when you don't like something.  Don't use this term when you or someone else makes a mistake.  My kiddo is NOT a mistake.

You are equating an entire population of people to something negative.  You probably know better than to use the "n" word.  Or the "f" word.  So why not this one?  Maybe because you think my son won't understand and call you out.  Guess what?  I understand and I have no problem calling you out on it.  And the whole, "oh they won't catch on" Yeah, I call bullshit on that too.   My son might not catch on at first but upon hearing it again and again and using that same tone, he will start to understand what it means.  He will start to think his very existence is something bad.

I get it that some people don't know or didn't mean it.  I'm 38.  I'm in that generation where we started figuring out that using a medical condition as a put down or a punch line is really not cool.  Some of us even take it one step further and actively call people out on it when they hear it used.  I know there are even some people who just don't use it around me because they know I will tear them a new one but probably let it slip out in other places.  If you can make the effort not to do it around a certain person, you can do it for everyone else too.  Get your act together.  We owe it to our kids.  No matter what their neurology.

March 6th is Spread the word to end the word day.   Take the pledge at r-word.org.   Share this on facebook.   Talk to people about it.   Explain it as this.  Why would you want an entire population of people to feel like they are less than?

If they say they didn't mean your kid, remind them they are talking about some one's kid.  Some one's pride and joy.  Stick up for all kids.  Not just the ones you know. 

110 comments:

  1. My beautiful, funny, smart, completely non-verbal daughter participates in the special olympics. She won a gold medal for bowling this past month.

    So if they don't mean your kid, and they don't mean my kid...who exactly do they think they're turning into the butt of the joke by using that particular word?

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    1. Congratulations on the bowling medal! I bet she was sooo happy!

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    2. You are truly the lucky one.....she could of chose anyone to be her mom and she picked YOU!!!! My daughter Nicole loved to bowl and she taught me everything!! I was blessed to have her in my life for 16 amazing years. Continue to make a difference in the lives of others as our children made an amazing difference in ours. I too still and always will cringe at that horrible word and are so happy that people are finally raising awareness...

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    3. Congratulations on the GOLD medal!!! That is awesome!! Keep smiling :-)

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    4. A friend of mine was visiting with her toddler one day....my 11 year old son was stimming, and her toddler was watching him....so I said, .."look how amused Josh is by Michael.."...She said, "he's probably thinking...look at that freak"...WTF did she just say? I should have corrected her right there, but alas, I was not granted with the quick wit gene...so I waited till the next day....she flipped out on ME, telling me ..."you're too sensitive"....oy

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    5. Darlin', I taught junior high to your generation and got royally sick of anything my students didn't like being called "retarded", especially since my oldest son IS retarded (Down Syndrome). As far as I can see, this is when using this term became really popular -- although my students and their siblings and their friends quickly learned that pushing my buttons by using "retarded" as a put-down was NOT very smart, not unless they enjoyed getting lectured. I'm glad that you're taking a strong strong stand against using the language of disabilities to describe things people don't like. I think the next term we need to strike is one I use far too often -- "crazy".

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  2. Love love love this......I have had so many conversations about this but am not nearly as eloquent. And when I get frustrated I well up so I'm sharing this post on my wall today. Thank you for finding my words!

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  3. Awesome. Love it. Sharing it.

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  4. AMEN !! Excellent Read, Well Said ! Sharing ! :)

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  5. My cousin has Downs syndrome. I really dislike when people use that word!

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  6. My sin tells people now,that he diesnt like the word and I'm very proud of him for sticking up for himself and others.

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  7. Unfortunately, the new word is "autistic" as a substitute. The movie 21 Jump Street and some "hip" Hollywood people think that's funny. I pray it doesn't catch on.

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    1. I haven't heard that one, thankfully. I'm a teacher, so the fact that I haven't heard kids say it might be a good sign.

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    2. I haven't heard that one, thankfully. I'm a teacher, so the fact that I haven't heard kids say it might be a good sign.

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    3. On Monday Mornings this week there were 2 "doctors" on a date. One doctor asked the other why he is so "aspergery" and the other said "don't you mean socially retarded?" then they shared a big laugh....while I was FUMING!!!! The letter that I sent to TNT had quite a few choice words of my own....NOT ACCEPTABLE!!!

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    4. I heard it used on the TV show 2 Broke Girls. I was very disappointed when I realized it's being used as a substitute.

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  8. These kids are blessed, because they don't have to deal with such stupidity, love and understanding from loving parents, relatives and friends, Understanding love, respect and caring are the best of God's gifts, FAITH.!!!

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  9. Awesome post!! I blogged about this very thing a couple weeks ago. http://pieces.amfas.org/?p=235

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  10. It is interesteing. My husband and I don't use the "r" word at all. But a few weeks ago, I heard it some out of my 11 year old son's mouth-- he was using it in reference to a normal kids behaving poorly. We had a conversation about how "negative" it is and that we did not feel that he should use that word, ever, like the "n" word. He said, "what is the "n" word?". So I told him. Needless to say, he had never heard it.
    But what I have learned in the last few weeks is that the 5th graders at his school are all running around calling each other "r" and "gay". They won't do this to the autistic/special needs kids/weak kids-- only to the other kids they are jealous of (academically, socially, or athletically stronger). I don't know where it came from but it is so not cool. At this point, my son knows not to use it and I call kids out who do use it, but it is very frustrating.

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  11. Dear Anonymous March 5 2012 11:05 AM:

    When you mention 'normal kids' you betray the very essence of what you are trying to say. The ADA ( www.ADA.Gov ) has very good ways of talking about and with people with disabilities. One basic idea is that a person is not THE disability the person HAS the disability. An example is you would not call someone with a broken leg A Broken Leg. Why would anyone say someone is 'Autistic' vs someone has Autism, or any other condition? It does seem awkward sometimes, but that is because we are not used to thinking about it this way. AND, by the way there is no such thing as 'normal kids' - nor normal adults for that matter.

    D Henderson

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    1. Seriously, D Henderson? This is the best response that you have.

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    2. Thank you, D Henderson. I agree. We should be using "people first" language. When you use the phrase "normal kids," you are suggesting that there is something wrong with other kids. No child can be held up as the standard to which the others should be judged.

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    3. Oh, I don't know about that. Most people with diabetes wouldn't balk at being called "diabetic" and most people who are "lactose intolerant" wouldn't insist on being referred to as "someone with lactose intolerance"

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    4. It also depends where you from. In the US, "people first" is generally preferred. But in the UK, we tend to write it the other way around (so disabled people, instead of people with disabilities). I believe it's based on the idea that their is nothing wrong with a disability, and therefore no need to be ashamed of the label. Personally, I use both since I've studied both, feel fine having both used in reference to me, but tend to try to use whatever the person or persons I am describing prefer.

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    5. I work with individuals who have autism and related diagnosis's. I prefer to state that "I support people wit autism" and coming from a nursing backgound where our cases were called patients I refer to my kidds at work as "participants" or "friends" because that is truley the relationship. I also find this to be a intresting topic and am hopeful to see the change in society become even more welcoming to any individule with special needs (IQ not limiting). Our society was so removed for so long, until passionate people decided totake a stand. Good luck with you passion and your little girl I bet she is amazing.

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    6. My son is three and he is autistic. I do not consider it to be a "disability" and no parent of a child with special needs should! MY SON IS EXCEPTIONAL! His exceptionality might require that he needs more attention but it does not mean he is "R", "not normal" or disabled!

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    7. i am autistic though. not a person "with" autism. autism is not a personality quirk that i carry around with me, it's a part of who i am.

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    8. Wow, Rachael D. you just totally changed my perspective on the word autistic! Thank you!

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  12. This is so true, I've had people say things about others with disabilities in my home and when I speak up they always say "oh not Ashlyn." But if they aren't talking about her they ARE talking about someone else's kid. Not okay. Ever. Great post.

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  13. I LOVE THIS!!!!!!! You nailed it sistah!!

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  14. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Down_syndrome read it....you had the option of saving an unborn soul the life you forced on through your selfish choices. we do not need to change the English language for you.If anything we should feel even worse that the poor souls had such selfish parents as to let some adults personal views condemn them to a life of medical problems.I know this personally as i have had a long life of misery due to my mothers choice.So pull your head out of the sand and accept the responsibility for what you have created, instead of expecting the world to change because you do not like a scientific term designated to describe a physical condition that you inflicted.

    Please do not take this wrong, I do not condone anyone being mistreated for things they could not control, nor do i condone a medical term being turned into a label.i have worn labels my whole life based on my mothers sense of personal/religious superiority.but she like any other parent was made aware of the consequences of her choice and i like the other children have to live with them.we are the victims , so quit waiving your banner as if you are now our champions....you are the ones who made the choice for us, we just want to live and be loved....not be poster children for your campaign to validate what you did to us.

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    1. I am so sorry that you feel that way about yourself. Whether you know it or not, you still bless lives. Your mother just could not allow herself to hire someone to kill you before you were born. Everyone has to deal with difficulties in life and they don't blame others. I am praying for you that you might be strong and stop feeling the way you do. Is there a constant pity party going on in your life?

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    2. I am so sad that you feel that way. Would you rather not ever have existed? I am sorry that ignorant people make you feel bad, but we all have a place in this world:)I really hope someday you realize what a gift you are, and how important you are to the world. You never know how profound your existence may turn out to be...you may be the reason someone else's life turns out happy. I hope you will be happy, too:)

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    3. My son was diagnosed after he was born. My pregnancy was normal. There was no choice for me.
      Even if I had known, there was no choice for me. Just because he is challenged, does not mean he is not entitled to be treated with respect. My neurotypical daughter has that same right.

      I have that right. You have that right. No one should be allowed to use words, actions or emotions as weapons. I hope someday you know the love of another person- challenges and all. When you feel that, you will understand that there is never any choice.

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    4. I totally agree with you when there are conditions that can be known ahead of time.

      But so many can't be, autism being a main one. My sister has intellectual disabilities, but it is unclear what caused it other than some congenital problem as opposed to a genetic one. There are also cases where some tragic accident happens after they are born that causes it. So there are many many cases where the parent desperately wanted and dreamed of a healthy child and that just isn't what happened.

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    5. I knew my daughter was going to be born with Spina Bifida before I had her and I had the chance to have an abourtion or carry her to term and love her as I would any "normal" kid. Obviously, I kept her and today she is a happy, healthy and BEAUTIFUL 8 year old! I didn't do it because of "personal/religious superiority" I did it because I already loved her and regardless of all the "problems" she will face in life I'd If given the cchance to do it all over again, I wouldn't change a thing. I'd do it the same way all over again. Just for the record, whoever you may be, the eugenics movement was outlawed decades ago. Just sayin'.

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    6. The Op in this thread is talking about Down Syndrom, not Autism. Reading comprehension please.
      Also, being the vocab cop is the hip new thing, watch out for the thought police.

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    7. My son was born completely perfect in every way. There was no diagnosis of ANYTHING! Then he got sick. Very very sick and he is now Retarded. Clinically. But you wouldn't say, Nigger, Fag, Spic, Wetback, Chink or any other slur like that. Retarded has become the new slur. I didn't make a choice to give birth to a baby who would forever be ill, hurt, disabled etc. I can also tell you that my son is none of those things. He is still perfect. All of us have some small thing that disables us, but we overcome. You are living a miserable life. Choose something else. My son chose something else. He smiles, he helps others, he cries when things are sad and he gets angry when things suck, He's a person. And yes I will stand on a soapbox every single day for that boy. I could care less what you think. My son is brilliant in a different way. Choose a different life for yourself. Do good things and they will bring you joy. There is pain in every life, overcome yours, live with it, but don't think it's ever ok to insult other people based on a life they cannot change.

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    8. My son is mentally and developmentally delayed. My pregnancy was perfect; there were no genetic or physical abnormalities that would have suggested anything was amiss. Should I have had an abortion simply on the chance he MIGHT turn out not to be perfect 2 years down the road?

      But even that's not true. Because my son IS perfect. He's taught me more in 3 years than I learned in the lifetime before he was born. He's taught me to accept myself, to love life, to not take those around me for granted; he's taught me patience, and kindness, and mercy, and grace under pressure. He's taught me to laugh when the entire world seems to be falling apart. He's taught me to love without any hope of return on investment. Tell me what "more perfect" child could have taught me those lessons better. Tell me what "more perfect" child would be happier, healthier, wiser, better than the one I got. Only then can you say he would've been better off not being born. Only then can you say the world he inherits should not be a kinder, softer, gentler, wiser one.

      You don't eliminate racism by getting rid of all the non-whites. You don't eliminate sizeism by getting rid of all the fat people. Please don't insinuate that we can only get rid of developmental prejudice by getting rid of all the neuro-atypical people.

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    9. It is wonderful that the English language can evolve, sadly though, people like you never will!

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  15. The "R" word, "F" word, "N" word... all need to go away. I Also think people need to realize that referring to something as "gay" is bad too. You have no idea, how offended someone is until you know someone it offends.

    I found that saying "That's stupid or dumb or ugly or ridiculous" literally portrays the message I am trying to get across instead of putting down someone else.

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    1. So you can call things stupid and believe you aren't offending anyone either? Stupid and retarded are synonymous with one another so while your at it why don't you stop using the word stupid too? Or dumb?

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    2. ^Anonymous March 1, 2013 at 5:38PM

      You're stupid. And you chose to be stupid by not learning basic things like grammar.

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    3. @Anonymous March 6 2013 at 5:38 PM

      What you said completely defeats the purpose of the article. Stupid and dumb are NOT synonymous with the r-word, yet people using it as a derogatory term leads society to think so.

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  16. 1) :) Agreed.

    2) "Get hip with the lingo"...did...did you use this phrase ironically? Because I'm almost positive that the phrase "get hip with" might have ...you know...drifted slightly out of vogue (several decades ago).

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    1. That's what all the grovey hip cats are saying ya dig? :-)

      Yes, irony. :-)

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    2. OMG! What phrase should she have chosen? "Git down wit da lingo"? Should we say "get some swag and don't say fag"? Or maybe we should just have a text code? "PDSR - Pleaae don't say retard"! Many of the parents who are now in charge of teaching this generation what IS or IS NOT politically correct, are fossils:) We say things like "get hip with it". Better to ask for changes politely than to say "get wittit b**ch!"

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  17. "Anonymous," I really don't think you speak for everyone with special needs when you say, "we should feel even worse that the poor souls had such selfish parents as to let some adults personal views condemn them to a life of medical problems." I am an adult with special needs and, although as a teenager I probably shouted "I wish I was never born!" at my parents, I didn't mean it. I work with children with special needs... autism, Down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome, and cerebral palsy, to name a few... and I HIGHLY doubt any of them would wish to not exist. I also know "typical" children who ended up developing horrible conditions such as brain tumors. And even THEY don't wish that they were never born.
    I believe that abortion (which I assume you are referring to here)is a personal choice, but not a choice that should be taken lightly. It definitely should not be considered the default action for children with special needs. You have no idea of the fullness of the lives that children are capable of living. A "full life" might not necessarily mean the same for every person, but I think it inevitably means being happy, and being loved, and loving others. I am truly sorry if you didn't get to experience these things. But do not generalize your experiences and assume that they are the experiences of all children with special needs!

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    1. Yeah, Nicki. You rock! Someone needed to speak about reproductive choice and good and bad reasons for the decisions that are made. Where do we draw the line between a "good" life and "great" life, what is enough ability to be part of the human family?

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    2. Thank you....well said!

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    3. Do what makes you happy. If getting an ice cream cone every day makes you happy, then do it. If going to Church on Sunday makes you happy then do it. My son has Down Syndrome. I love him more than life itself and he inspires me everyday. Find someone that inspires you to do better!

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    4. If studies are to be believed, Downs Syndrome individuals are happier with their lives than neurotypical people. Big surprise... to anyone who's never met someone with Downs Syndrome.

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    5. This highlights why I think easy access to abortions is so horrendous. Deciding who gets to continue living and who doesn't is huge and not usually best left to us humans. A study in India found that 99% of aborted fetuses were female. Now with modern science we can learn so much about a child before its born. We are entering a world where humans who don't "make the grade" are just killed to make room one that will. Should we have abortion clinics screen people by asking "are you doing this because its a girl? Or has Down's syndrome? Or brown eyes. Taking the randomness out of reproduction could have dire consequences down the road. And make for a less colorful world.

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    6. I'm pro-choice and I think that if people want to (e.g. if it's due to rape or if the pregnancy will harm the mother/baby) they can abort. Having said that, I also believe that everyone has a chance for a happy life. You don't HAVE to abort a baby with an ID if you don't want to. Kind of where the "choice" bit comes from. :)

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  18. Thank you for sticking up for my son and for all the kids who don't have a voice. My son Collin may not know what is being said...but his able minded brothers do. They here the word and fully understand how hurtful it is when it is used!

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  19. Thank you!!! I get so enraged when ppl use that word. I ask them if they realize they are offending MY KID...they never do, but when put into perspective, they seem to get it, and I hope they stop saying it, and not just around me!

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  20. I work with Developmentally Disabled adults with behavioral issues. I consider them my family and since they can not speak for themselves, it is my responsibility and privledge to be their advocate.

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  21. I wrote my own post this morning but you have articulated yours so much better than I.
    I wonder if you would consider a guest post for me?

    closertolucy@gmail.com

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  22. LOVE this!! Sharing it. Love the thesaurus line…I just said the same thing today…pick another word. There are millions of them!!

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  23. I do not have special needs child but our best friends have a son who is extremely special to us. He is very special to the entire High School he attends. If you were to walk the hallways you would rarely if ever hear the R word. If you heard it you would hear that person called out. It makes me proud of that entire school!!!!

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  24. I love this soooo much! I am a special education teacher and have called people out for saying the "r" word in the grocery store. I know I am not a mother of a kid with a disability, but to me, my 8 students are my babies and nothing makes my blood boil like someone saying a word that puts down my babies

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  25. Its sad to say but my oldest got in an argument with his teacher when he was in 5th grade because she used it and he told that it was not a nice word to say because it put down people like his baby brother. She told him she didnt mean it that way he told her she shouldnt use it at all. My oldest is in high school now but I will always remember him doing this.

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    1. Should of also stated that my yougest(the baby brother) has Autism.

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    2. Oh dear God... your boy must have been so brave to have said that to his TEACHER. I have so much respect for your son and for you to have instilled this message so early on.

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  26. I have 2 children with special needs and I do not like hearing the "r" word used by anyone. When I am in the company of someone who uses the word,for example if someone exclaimed, "That movie was so ." I pretend to not understand and say, "So you thought the movie was slow? I didn't think it was developmentally delayed, I thought it was just a little boring." At first, they look at me like I'm nuts.....then you can see the gears turning in their mind as they start to catch on to what I'm saying. :) I know....I'm being a smart-a$$, but it makes a point.

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  27. I love this, have had sooo many conversations with people about the use of the R- word and how offensive it is. My brother is 33 and participates in many special olympics sports and has worked for our local grocery store for 15 years...I now have a 14 year old son and his friends often use the R-word...I do have to have my pride moment when I was looking at his texts (rule in our house...password protect = no phone for you) and he called out a girl that he liked for using it..wasn't rude...just responded to her text..with "hey don't say that, it's not cool" she said "what" he said"don't say retarded its NOT cool, my uncle has special needs and he is one of the coolest guys I know..just don't say that word!

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  28. THANK YOU for this post! I was at an Autism conference a few years ago in Vancouver, BC, Canada and a "professional" used the "R" word in his schpeel. I felt like I'd been kicked in the stomach! What an insulting, degrading, offensive way to discuss those coming to you filled with hope of a better life. I stood up, verbally dressed him down (without using degrading terminology), walked out of his seminar and wrote a complaint to the conference organizers. If we're not our children's first and BEST advocate, we cannot expect anything better from anyone else.

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  29. My brother has Down Syndrome he is 50 years old and the sweetest most loving person I know. We grew up in the UK in a time when the words "Mongoloid" or "backwards" were used commonly as purely descriptive terms, albeit offensive ones. As we evolved from those now frowned upon words, the new descriptive word of choice became "Retarded" or "Handicapped". We now live in the US and have for 36 years. I have used the word retarded many times in my life during the times that it was "acceptable" to use.
    I volunteered for many a Special Olympics event and helped at my brothers local ARC (which used to stand for Association for Retarded Citizens by the way)where the R word was completely accepted. I stopped using the R word a long time ago and check those who use it around me. I really believe that the next politically/socially correct word will run it's cycle too and we will have to conform yet again. Personally, I do not like the term mentally challenged. I would like to also comment on The Arc's comment I have pasted below; if we are to spread the word to end the word then the medical field needs to get on board IMMEDIATELY and state and federal laws MUST be rewritten!

    ARC

    A History of Name Changes

    1953 - 1973: National Association for Retarded Children (NARC)
    1973 - 1981: National Association for Retarded Citizens (NARC)
    1981 - 1992: Association for Retarded Citizens of the United States (ARC)
    1992 - Present: The Arc of the United States (The Arc)

    Changing with the times

    We, as an organization have been sensitive to the impact of terminology on our constituency and have adapted accordingly. As the words 'retardation' and 'retarded' became pejorative, derogatory and demeaning in usage, the organization changed its name to 'The Arc.'

    Today, the term 'mental retardation' remains the terminology used in the medical field and referenced in many state and federal laws. However, 'intellectual disability' and 'developmental disability' are making their presence known, and we are doing everything in our power to make sure they're adopted more broadly.

    We strongly believe the only 'r-word' that should be used when referring to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is "Respect."

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  30. I have a special needs son who has autism & hydrocephalus. The r word has always been offensive to me and to my other son. I salute parents who teach their children to not use this word. It is misused and highly offensive.

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  31. Often times when I call someone out for using the "R" word, they (or someone else who saw me call them out) immediately try to use a dictionary definition to rationalize or justify their use of the word. It is really sad that people will use a dictionary to rationalize their poor word choice rather than find a more appropriate word to use.

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    1. I know what you mean. I had an argument with a girl I knew when I was 12 because she said, "You're so retarded," as a joke. I called her out and she tried to use the Internet to justify the r-word is the 'correct medical term' when I knew for a fact it isn't.

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  32. I am the parent of a child with intellectual disabilities and I happen to be a speaker, author and advocate for the special needs community.In my experiences, I have found that people who are not intimately attached to our community have challenges properly communicating at times. There are those who use words based on ignorance and others who use words based on stupidity. The difference obviously is the intent of the interchange of words. Allowing yourself to get to a point of inappropriate usage of words in addressing some of these people is as profoundly wrong as their absence of communication skills. Many of these situations can be used to educate as well as impact the lives of those who are practicing bad behavior intentionally.The most impacting response to the use of improper words happened when my son had a job sacking groceries and a customer was dissatisfied with the manner my son was doing his job and he asked my son if he was stupid! My son responded, "no I'm not stupid, I'm a Christian and I'm going to Pray for you because you need some Jesus!! Now, how many of us would have responded like that? Our use of words can either "edify or crucify" so let us be committed to building each other up rather than tearing down and our world will be a better place for it.

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  33. I found this on facebook. Now it is being shared and reshared. I love someone with autism (my son who is 16) and he loves fries and yes they make everything better. duh! I like how this is written. No apologies, straight forward. Just stop using the darn word! you go!

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  34. I hope someone can explain this for me (and no, I'm NOT being sarcastic, I just truly don't understand) - it seems that the only reason for taking offense to that word is because you associate it with someone who has a learning or developmental disability or impairment. If someone uses the word "shoe" to describe an undesirable person, I have no reason to be personally offended by their use of that word unless I believe that I am also a "shoe" and that they are somehow trying to compare me with that undesirable person. So why is the "r" word so offensive to you unless you have already associated that word with your son/daughter/other acquaintance with a disability. I don't use that word, simply because I tend to shy away from names and slang, but I feel like I don't truly understand the issue here.

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    1. As far as the dictionary is concerned, retarded is an adjective meaning "slow or limited in intellectual or emotional development or academic progress." I know a lot of people who meet that description and are not autistic/disabled.

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    2. You could also look up the "f" word or the "n" word in the dictionary and the description would be accurate for the most common use of those words...just because I am not gay or black or even a "shoe" as your example states, does not mean that the use of these words is any less offensive.

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    3. So if you use the r word to describe the medical condition of a child, why then, would you want to make it synonymous with "ugly" "disgusting" "uncool" "obnoxious" and dozens of other denigrating terms. That's what this is about, it's about erasing the negative connotations.

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    4. No doubt that the word is an insult. I think BEFORE the word became an insult, it might have been appropriate to use the phrase that a person was experiencing "retarded development" or maybe that a company was experiencing "retarded growth". So is the issue here to remove use of the word as an insult, or to remove its use altogether, even in its original (possibly medical) meaning, ie, synonymous with "slowed" or "not as fast as predicted"?

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    5. I have the same question- is the R word offensive no matter what connotation it's used in? Obviously if its being used to insult someone or something it is offensive. However, if you were using it to describe someone who indeed has a developmental slowness, is that ok? I also, am asking in pure sincerity and that I have no idea what is truly the issue? Like someone else had said, if you are calling something stupid or dumb...you are still having the same effect of using the R word. What word is to be used to describe something of that nature? And I'm not referring to people here, just things. If someone says, "That movie was so R**ded"...what should they say instead? It was so dumb? They pretty much mean the same thing according to definition. It shouldn't be used as slang, but is it now just offensive downright like a swear word? I don't think anyone actually answered the previous persons question. If were talking about horrible stereotypes and calling people names, I would also like to add that blonde jokes should be considered offensive as well. I am blonde- always have been- and I can't tell you how offensive it is to me that the first thing some people want to do is share their favorite blonde joke with me...which 100% puts down the intelligence of myself. That's just my personal note on things that are offensive.

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    6. It's about respect. Even if you don't "get it" respect the fact that it is hurtful to people and stop saying it. I'm sure you don't go around saying the 'n' word and say, "what's the problem why is that offensive". It's offensive for the same reason. It is. And if you think no one is around who would be offended, you would probably be wrong too. You could be around someone who is a sibling, a friend, a cousin of someone they love a lot. Just respectfully find a new word. There are millions to choose from.

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    7. Does it really matter in the big scheme of things! You can argue to hell and back that there are appropriate uses for the word retarded. However, using it in the "slang" dialect is offensive to a large population of wonderful parents, friends, co-workers and children that are blessed to be touched by those with special needs...I can remember the first time someone called my brother a "retard" on a playground when I was 12 and he was 2...I am 42 now and it still boils my blood to think about it... There are sooo many words in the english language to use, can it really be that difficult to find a different term to use in this reference...agree or disagree, out of respect for those who do find it offensive, find another word to express yourself!

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    8. Got it...not to be used ever. I don't use the word for obvious reasons, I hope I didn't convey the opposite. I'm suggesting that those who constantly say, "find another word to express yourself", give the choices of other words for those who need it...as to not keep offending.

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    9. personally, I am not usually offended when someone uses the term "mentally retarded" to refer to someone with intellectual disabilities, especially when I consider the generational differences. Mentally retarded was a diagnostic term used for years. My father in law used to say it when he would describe someone he encountered with special needs...however, just because I wasn't offended, because I know he meant no ill will, does not mean I didn't correct him. It's all in the delivery...you don't have to be an "r" word tyrant to change peoples perception, you just have to be willing to stop and re-educate when the opportunity presents itself...and take the time to educate future generations through your actions and how you yourself choose your words.

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    10. It's a very difficult problem with no easy answers. My 85 year old grandmother has expressed to me her frustration with having to learn and change terminology every decade or so. Negro or the lazy form in the south niggrah was commonplace and used by both blacks and whites. Well the term has had several incarnations since then and the current is African American, which my grandmother just refuses to use (as do I and the vast majority of my black friends). It's sad we even need the designation - but we do. Now many are crying foul about the word "disabled" being used for autistic and other mentally related disorders. To me the medical terms "developmentally retarded" or "mentally retarded" are accurate for many disorders, but not all. The sad thing is once a term is adopted to describe the condition or disorder it will begin to be used as an insult and then will become offensive and people will insist a change in terminology which means all the books have to be updated and old people seem out of touch and prejudiced again. I used to work with the deaf and people would tell me I shouldn't refer to them as "deaf" but instead "hearing impaired". Sometimes for fun I would tell that to some if my deaf friends just to see the look on their face. Lol. I've never known one to use the term "hearing impaired". So to me the problem isn't the terms but the fact that people consider them an insult. If anyone ever uses the term "crazy" as an insult I call them out in it. If someone were to call me crazy or stupid as an insult I would tell them my psychiatrist swears I'm not, but if I were I wouldn't be ashamed of it.

      It seems there is no easy answer. As long as humans are mean we'll have to keep figuring this out.

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    11. i get annoyed witrh the pc police i have autism an ld an dontr like people who dont have disabilitys telling me an my friebnds what we are an what to say .i dont understand why they are changing mental reataedion itr is a medical dx .i dont like being lump under one bog lable as people are ingorent as it is .i was thought of as retard .it not nice to call someone that .but as long as it not being dircted at me i dont say anything .if i hear it in public .some people are nuts /rude an may tell me tO myob .it tricky the whole thing

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  35. I 100% agree with everything you have said. Also, I love your blog. When people use the r-word it just annoys me and gets me so upset, like you my friends know not to say it around me. But not only have they stopped using the r-word around me, they have stopped saying it all together. That really makes me happy that I got just a few people to listen because that's how we make a difference - one at a time. Unfortunately, there are some really ignorant people out there. Like my boss, for example. He says the word "retard" as much as he says the word "the." I have called him out so many times, I have told him my side and how I see the word being used as well as every other story in the book and he just doesn't get it. I wish there was some way to reach everyone, but how do we change the people who refuse?
    On a brighter note! The r-word campaign has come so far already and that is really amazing. Just remember, that if you say something to one person and that one person stops using the r-word, you are making a difference.

    Also, please follow my blog:
    spreadingtheword4specialolympics.wordpress.com

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  36. It's funny, my closest friend has three children with autism, and she used to feel the way you do. Then she started thinking about it, especially when she heard the phrase " 'tard happy." She looked at her youngest who has microcephaly in addition to other neuro issues, and my friend sees how totally happy and content her daughter is. She told me the other day, "I wish I could feel the uncomplicated peace my daughter does. When I hear that phrase now, I count it as a compliment." It's all in how you look at it, how you react to it will dictate how your son reacts to it, so please know the world is for all intents and purposes broken, and you won't be able to stop foolish words, no matter how much you rage against them. ---Jen

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    1. So when someone offends us, we should just say, "oh well"? Or should we at least attempt to use it as a "teachable moment" with someone who may not have realized they were being offensive? I vote for option two, rather than being a doormat.

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  37. If it wasn't for Autism and Aspergers kids.. we would not have Windows or windows phones etc. Bill Gates is Aspergers. Many of our great artists and inventors were autistic.

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  38. I was called a Retard last year and it's not cool I mean if you can't say something nice don't say it

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  39. And kids with disabilities often grow into adults with disabilities! They may be talking about your kid, someone else's kid - but also you're friend, your boss, you, anyone!
    Not that I think the original poster was forgetting that children grow into adults, but too often those advocating for children with disabilities (although not really voting that Jerry Lewis' telethon counts as advocating) forget that there are disabled adults.

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  40. I love this article. I've made it a point to bring it to people's attention that the word is not kind and ask them to pick a different word. I try to be as respectful as possible and usually make a joke. MOst people get it. Most people understand. Most people don't mind. I recently had a "friend" tell me that word's origin is from music and that it only means slow, indicating that I should somehow not find it offensive. When I see the word on music, I am not offended. When it comes out of someone's mouth or written as a word I am.

    I love that you said if it's not my kid you're talking about, then who's kid are you referring to. Hammer. Nail. Right on the head. Thank you.

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  41. As a parent of two children with whatever term you want to use, PDD-NOS, and Asperger’s Syndrome, I find this type of article offensive. The child is going to have to deal with others who frankly don’t care if you are offended by a phrase or word.

    By your actions “Some of us even take it one step further and actively call people out on it when they hear it used.” You are reinforcing a negative connotation to something your child will hear long after you’re gone. I chose to teach my sons how to deal with this type of situation with understanding and dignity, rather than an in your face attitude.

    Why show your child a confrontational attitude? Isn’t it better to teach them that ignorant people are something they are going to have to deal with for the rest of their lives? Teach them how to deal with insults, intended or not, and do it by your actions!

    Your child will be longer effected by your actions then by the word. They will see this upsets you, and take their clue from you. If you get in someone’s face about the situation, they will feel this is correct action. If you don’t like something, get in the guys face.

    Why not just shrug it off, and explain that some people are ignorant, or make bad choices in their selection of words?

    The words hurt because you are teaching your children to let them hurt.
    lrkiel@hotmail.com

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    1. I totally agree! It's offensive because the parent has already (maybe subconsciously) given their child the "r" label - that's the only reason that word is offensive to them. Unless the parent has already categorized the child as a "retard" there's absolutely no reason to be offended by its use as an insult. As someoe stated earlier, these same parents wouldn't be offended by someone's malicious use of the term "shoe" because they haven't already labelled their own child as a "shoe"

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    2. I agree better to not show a confrontational attitude and make the situation worse than it is already. People will also not respond as well to being called out in a "confrontational" manner.

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  42. Actions are everything. Anyone who is different will be referred to as "someone different" by any number of words, nicknames, professional titles, etc. (BTW, we are all different) Most of us embrace these WORDS that describe us, as endearing terms of acceptance. If I were a retard, I'd say "Thank God, society has a word to describe me, so people like me must be more common than I thought when I was 15." I would think the same thing if I were CEO. It's your meaning and intent that's important, not the WORDS you choose, We can change the meaning of these words, it's more productive then changing the WORDS.

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  43. I hear people saying that's autistic instead of that's retarded. It's unbelievable people think that is an acceptable substitute.

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  44. People don’t understand Made by Walter Stanford 10-14-2012

    This is a poem who are just like me people who have so many disability’s but people don’t really see that we can do a lot of things it does not matter if you have physical or if its mentality.
    To me the disability fact is just a state of mine an illusion that makes world so blind they can’t see us as who we really are and that is we are god’s perfect angels each and every one of us.


    (I am a person with *special needs*) I am 24 years old with slow comprehension but also high functioning

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  45. wow... you just blew my mind. I always thought these kinds of posts were ridiculous because, frankly, it's just a word, what harm could it really do. I guess I never equated it with identity because it never occurred to me to ever use that word in an identifying manner towards a person so I never really saw the harm; but this changed my mind, "He will start to think his very existence is something bad."
    I never thought of it that way, and now I feel pretty awful :( I won't be using that word again.

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  46. My daughter is 42 and believe me she knows what the R word is all about. She has been devastated by being called that. She has cried in my arms and has asked me over the years the "Why question".. Why would someone say that to me? "I am Jennifer. I am me.".
    On one airlines when I went to get my daughter a card to board among the first when she was traveling actually said to the two of us.."There is nothing wrong..get it WRONG with her". I did not want to have a fight with her as my daughter was standing right by me. I quietly gave the girl a look that was saying if I could I would slam you from one side of this airport to the other..but I realized the situation had to be handled so I quietly said my daughter was "Special". My daughter got that code immediately and started crying. The airline representative just standing there finally gave us the card we needed. My daughter and I went back to the gate where she cried and cried. I started crying too. Once she boarded the flight I could not move. I started to weep. Finally, a representative of the airlines came up to me and asked if I was alright. I said no as the tears kept coming. It was as if a flood gate of tears and anger and sadness all wrapped in one. I finally was able to tell him what happen..then a Customer Service fellow came to visit me. I was crying and so mad. He apologized one hundred times and handed me a round-trip ticket to wherever I wanted to go. I said I don't want this. I want you to get the girl who said this and fire her. He said he would "Talk to her". I can only pray she got his message. He asked for my daughter's name and called her when she arrived at her destination. He called me too telling me my daughter sounded good. I thanked him. This was six years ago so my daughter was 36.
    If there are still people out there that think kids do not understand or get hurt from words used..learn again. Get rid of the R word.

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  47. Couldn't agree more!!
    http://captainjacktastic.wordpress.com/2012/11/16/that-word/\

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  48. When my son was in 1st grade, a boy with Asperger's, in his class, bothered the bajeesus out of him. My son, who was still getting used to school and working hard to follow the teacher's rules, couldn't understand why this boy interrupted the teacher without raising his hand, paced around the room, and "refused" to participate in expected ways.

    I didn't tell my son to use a word about the boy. I went to the boy's mom, and I let her give me the words. I said, "How would you like me to talk to my son about your son?" She gave us a book. She asked us not to use the "A" word, because they had not yet taught their son about the name used for his diagnosis.


    So I don't use the "r" word about people.

    And yet, I also don't get up in arms when people do it and it's *not* about a person who might have formerly been described with that word. Like Joe Flacco. Or Lady Gaga. Or Lebron James. I feel that a minority is asking a majority to change their words. In this post and in other places, I see a minority *telling* the majority what they truly mean when they use the word. I see an inability to see that sometimes--and I accept that I may be naive about how relatively infrequent this may be--there is *affection* in the use of this word about neurotypical people who make offbeat choices. And finally, I see a campaign where we are told that this word isn't even accurately used anymore to define the people diagnosis/disability/condition, AND also told that we're referring to those same people when we use it in this more common way. If you don't use it, don't use it. But it's unfair to tell everyone not to use it, it's unrealistic to expect rapid change about its use, and it's certainly not edifying to confront them as this post recommends.

    Finally, I will say that a lot of people who get irate about this word are in the midst of a grief process, either about someone with an intellectual disability or with the culture that doesn't make life easier. Some people really do become irrational and unable to have a discussion about it, when what we really need is more discussion. And compassion.

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  49. the word retard mean that they developed later than expected, and just because the autistic kids can learn some things does not mean that the kid is not stupid or retarded because they are. I'm sure your kid might be nice some of them are, but some are mean little bastards. you are all just very protective mothers because you love your children which is ok, but that doesn't mean I'm going to stop calling people retarded that are retarded. and you said that they shouldn't feel like they're less of a person, well truth is they are less of a person & if the kid understands that then maybe he is becoming a little bit more intelligent. . but the truth is they won't understand it they might understand that people are using in a negative way but they don't understand things the way other people do, because they are retarded

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    1. That's really hateful.

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    2. That's a dictionary definition. Remember, we live in a society of people who aren't quite sure what a dictionary is. On another note, the word idiot has a similar meaning, yet it isn't even used anymore in a medical sense. People are still considered mentally retarded, but no longer do professionals use the term idiot. Why then are we all throwing our hats down at the word retard, but ignoring words so commonplace that they don't even seem so bad anymore?

      Many would scoff at the notion of calling someone a retard even from a medical perspective. But an idiot - well, I hear that one all too often.

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  50. Thing is.... you can call someone retarded in certain instances, say, to explain to a parent that their child is retarded from a medical perspective. Someone already mentioned, and is absolutely correct in saying, that's the proper way to use the term. However, when it's used by people against each other - retarded or not - it's offensive. All the same, a few of my friends are medically considered retarded.... does that mean anybody needs to offend my friends by calling them by such crude terms? That's like calling me lactose intolerant and laughing at my inability to digest dairy products, but on a much higher scale. Here, we're talking about a life-impacting disability. Sure, there are retarded people. But you don't just use a term like that lightly.

    You do bring up a good point though. Just because people are offended, some may find opposition when using words correctly. "This patient is retarded". Or even using the word retarded correctly. After all, when calling a person retarded, you mean to say the person is *mentally retarded*. Retarded by itself means something different. I've said before that a surface with a high coefficient of friction will retard motion of objects accross it. That's how we talk about motion and friction. In that case I wasn't talking about mental retardation at all - yet I still faced people telling me to stop being so offensive.

    TL;DR we all need to grow up and use vocabulary words correctly. Calling a person mentally retarded is only acceptable in a medical setting, and I'd also go as far as saying only when used by doctor to explain a condition. It's not often (read: never) that anyone would find it necessary to explain someone else's medical condition. Using the term retard in a correct sense is acceptable - but it is difficult for others to understand.

    Side note, if you've ever heard of fire retardant fabric.... that's another acceptable use of the term retard.

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  51. I worked at a special needs school and was working with high need student. They are some extremely bright children! Some of my friends asked why am I working at 'The retard school' My reply was that if they their selves had worked at the school they'd see how amazing and smart those children are. They just have one small thing stopping them from expressing it all. those people are no longer my friends.

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    1. Way to go Lee Hackett for standing up to your friends for using this word and even for not being their friends anymore. I'm sure it was a difficult thing to do. I myself have stopped being friends with people who would not stop using that disgraceful word.

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