Sunday, June 26, 2011

The "R" Word

I wish that I did not have to write about this. My new article on Squidoo is about the use of The "R" word.
I felt that I had to write it, I am so sick of hearing the children call my child a retard and it is obviously becoming worse as the issue has made national news multiple times- lawmakers have even been discussing options to eliminates it's usage as an insult or joke.

The problem with eliminating the word however, is that it is a legitimate word with legitimate uses in science and medicine as well as the rest of the english language in general.  If we officially removed the word from our language, what would happen in those areas where the word is commonly used in it's proper form? In medicine for example, removing the word may have dire consequences as  "Mental retardation" is an actual diagnosis- much like how the term "aspergers" marks the severity of  an individual's symptoms on the autism spectrum, the term "retardation" does depict the severity of an individual's intellectual impairment.  Removing the word may cause more than inconvenience- if a doctor or nurse does not keep up with the change and say for example that  they are one of the very few lazy providers who will not look things up- or the one with an attitude who insists that the patient's family is lying or has made up the new diagnosis because they had not heard of it- what happens to the patient when the provider is confused about the terminology?

Anyway, thinking about the r-word is upsetting on many levels. I get furious when people call Cutie the "R" word- in part because he is autistic and I do not want him to feel that retardation is part of his diagnosis. On a side note- Cutie's IQ after being tested repeatedly came out ridiculously high, I do take some guilty pleasure in knowing that he is probably smarter than the children calling him the "R" word!  I know that doesn't really matter, but I have to find something to think about to avoid screaming at the kids- this helps me tell them nicely that it is wrong to use the word....

I am also infuriated by the causal way that young people have been throwing the word around as a way to indicate that their "friend" has been irritating or done something clumsy or stupid- it is an insult to people with the official diagnosis everywhere. Aside from showing compassion for people who have mental retardation, I think people should consider how brave these individuals and their families are- as brutal and cruel as our society is, they continue to enjoy life and make the best of it.  On some level, I wonder if some people are envious of people with mental retardation- their ability to appreciate the simple things and see beauty in the world where others can't is an amazing gift that very few other people have.

1 comment:

  1. I can relate. I don't think I have ever used that word the way other kids do, but that's probably because my little sister has Autism - and my mom taught me why it's wrong to go around using that word. If I'm really close to someone I will tell them I don't appreciate it, but I don't think anyone I'm close to really uses that word anyway. And if I am around someone who's using it, I will probably tell them that they are ignorant. These are kids at your son's school calling him that? I don't think my sister really dealt with people calling her that, and it's not like anyone really new a lot about Autism. I think having me around and her having an aide around may have helped in that. If it's at his school, I'd talk to administration and make them do something about it.