Loaded words – retard

I follow the blog Love That Max.  Ellen Seidman is the mother of a child with special needs, and she writes about issues she has experienced.

The post that popped up in my inbox today was New York City Council plans to ban use of “mentally retarded,” people freak out.

It talks about the reaction people have to the use of the word retarded, and the reaction to those who are offended by it.

I am growing into the skin of a parent who has a child with special needs.  It is a challenge getting used to how long it takes for things to happen – developmentally, with supports, with people’s attitudes, and so on.

The delays we are dealing with are obvious to us, and those who interact with us on a regular basis.  However, as Reid gets older it will become more obvious and challenging.  While he is currently two, almost three, and can go into the nursery at church, it’s not so bad.  He expresses himself with a lot of squeals and sounds that sound distressing.  However, the trick is to know that he is not distressed.  The laughs are much better than the screams when he is angry.

When he is five, looks like six or more, and acts like a three year, it will become more of a problem.  We will have to adapt, and fight for his acceptance and the supports he needs.

It is a challenge to think about loaded words, and to find less hurtful, more inclusive alternatives.  So many things have become different than they were years ago.

In the past, those with special needs were often “warehoused” in facilities.  Most of these facilities have been shut down in favour of group homes.

Be careful of the words you use to comment.  Even if they don’t seem hurtful, they can be.

Remember, each person with special needs is someone’s daughter or son, brother or sister, cousin, niece or nephew.

Parenting a child with special needs can be a tough ride, and adds weight to whatever else is going on in life.

If you see someone accompanying someone with special needs, respect both.  Say a kind word to both.


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