End the “r” word for Rosalie!

5 Mar

So today is March 5th, the day we Spread the Word to End the Word. The “r” word.
I am guilty of using the r word. In high school and in college, I probably used it a lot to describe many people or situations. I am so ashamed to admit it now.

I began to work for Special Olympics Georgia in 2006 and I cut it out of my vocabulary, not just because I didn’t want to offend anyone in my job, but because I saw just how wrong and hurtful it was to use it. After I left my job at SOGA, I’m sure I let it slip every once in a while. I mean, what’s the harm? I didn’t mean it “that way.” (How many times have we as parents of children with Down syndrome heard that?)

Now that I am a parent of a child with Down syndrome, I absolutely hate the word. Every time I hear it, it’s like a slap in the face. I am great at playing it cool and being understanding, because at one time I DIDN’T have a child with an intellectual disability (ID) & so now that I do doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes myself.
But hearing the r-word is like a knife in the heart. And then I think about my beautiful sweet girl & her awesome friends, and I just can’t keep quiet. I have to say something. I don’t want to embarrass anyone, but I want people to stop using the word. And not just in front of me, but altogether!

When you use the r-word, you are comparing someone or something to my child & her friends in a negative way, plain and simple. And yes, you DID mean it that way.

Put yourself in the shoes of a parent of a child with an ID like Down syndrome. Just try so hard to imagine. You are out with friends at dinner and someone loudly says, “What a retard!” (Remember, your child has an ID.) How do you imagine you would react? Are you gonna laugh along or is your heart going to drop into your stomach as you try to catch your breath while you feel everyone’s eyes on you because YOU have a child who has an ID.
Seriously, like the poster I’ve seen, there are a ZILLION other words you could use. I will buy you a thesaurus if you need to pick a new one, just stop using the R-word.

Rosalie and her friends thank you.


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