Monday, March 1, 2010

It's A SIMPLE Request.

I've been quietly reading the many other blogs I follow about the use of the word "retard" or "retarded". Just taking it all in. I've had a hard time coming up with why exactly this word hurts me specifically. Or why it may hurt others in my position.

So I'm talking about when someone, maybe yourself says "oh, that's so retarded" or "I'm such a retard" or "uggh, this computer is soo retarded!" Many people probably have no idea they even say it and I bet 98% of the people that say it don't automatically think of someone with Down syndrome or some other intellectual disability. I get that, I do. I understand that the majority of people that say it would never mean to hurt someone like Bennett- it's just habit, it just comes out, it's just common slang. Yep, I get that too.

But here's the thing, since having Bennett this word hurts. This is why it's been hard for me to come up with why exactly it hurts because before Bennett, I know I said it, I'm sure and never thought that it was hurting someone. Kind of like the word stupid, right? Yeah, but it's different. It just is.

You see "what not everybody seems to realize is that the current, common definitions of the word "retarded" as stupid, wrong, ineffective... the catch-all for anything that is annoyingly deficient, are steeped in our cultural view of people with mental retardation." This quote is taken from a letter that was written to Sarah Palin.

Basically when I hear someone say that word, to me I hear "oh, that's so like Bennett" or "you're just like Bennett" or even "this computer is just like Bennett". Now is this how I see my son? Of course not! I don't see him as worthless, stupid or ineffective. But that word, like the quote says, is steeped in our culture view of people like Bennett. Seem extreme? Well, I can't explain it and perhaps you'll never fully understand how hurtful the word "retarded" is, until you have a child with special needs or with intellectual disabilities.

Here's another thing, it's not about being politically correct. Because I know people roll their eyes at that, let's admit it, they do. We are talking about a group of people that when all's said and done, can't defend themselves. They just can't. We are talking about a group of people that for the most part have unconditional love. Why, why would you want to continue to hurt a group of people that are just trying to fit in with the rest of us. After all, they're more alike than different. It's human decency. People with Down syndrome and people with other intellectual disabilities deserve respect.

And this isn't about "Adrienne, you need to get tough skin". Nope, not with this. I've got tough skin people. I can handle a lot. Again, it's about human decency.

All I'm asking is for you to acknowledge this word. If it slips out but then you think that was wrong, that hurts people when I say it, whether I understand or not and then you try not to say it, that makes me and so many others happy. But to refuse to stop saying it or to refuse to acknowledge that it hurts or to say "it's freedom of speech", well that's just being ignorant, when you should know better and it's down right mean.

Bennett won't always be a little baby, with cute chubby cheeks. He'll be grown some day. And you may never meet Bennett but perhaps you'll remember him when you see someone like him. And maybe you'll think about at least one smile that Bennett put on your face. You wouldn't ever want to hurt him or anyone like him or the parents that are so proud of him would you? So stop saying that word. Just put yourself in my shoes when you hear someone say it and think of your precious child, grandchild, sister or brother. Think if there was a word that technically is used in medical terms to describe your child but is also used over an over in movies, on the street, in professional settings as a derogatory word, how would you feel?

It's a SIMPLE request.


  1. Nicely put Adrienne!!! And YES, its me, Stefanie from VSC. You have a beautiful family! I am happy to find you on here, I thought your name sounded very, very familiar. If you ever want to chat, send me an email. I will send you a message on FB with my email address.


  2. Love it! Very well said, Adrienne. I totally agree!

  3. I agree! I never liked it when people said the word even before I knew anyone with Down Syndrome or before I knew my cousin was developmentally disabled. He does not like it when people use the word. He will say that isn't nice. I have a friend who uses it freely in many of the phrases you named and many more as well. I cringe every time he says it but have never been able to put it into words. I wish he would read an article like yours. Maybe I will attach it to an email I send to him. One can only hope that fewer people use the word so easily. Kids at my son's school are starting to use it now too. Thanks for writing!

    Jennifer from CA

  4. AMAZING POST!!! I too have a daughter with Down syndrome, and people still use this word around me. It drives me crazy! And you're right, It's not about being over-sensitive - it's just not right to use!!!

    I've been wanting to discuss this on my blog as well, for quite some time, but just didn't know how to word things right. I have to say, you did it perfectly!! I might just have to add a little link in one of my posts (if you don't mind) ;)

    I enjoy reading your blog daily! You have a beautiful family!

  5. A neighbor of ours knows that our daughter is mentally challenged & he said right to my 13 year olds face {Emily's older sister}, that he likes making fun of of retarded kids. How's that for hurtful?

    I think that's why being a parent of a "special" child like ours.....kind of puts us in our own little category. Sad but true.

    I'm glad we are here celebrating our children together Adrienne.

  6. wonderful post. I can't always explain why it hurts either, but it sure does. Thanks for the great post!

  7. I taught students with disabilities and it just made my skin crawl to hear the other students say that word, and lets not even talk about hearing a parent say it. I appreciate your post and your point of view.

  8. Thank you so much. It is hard to say "why", I agree. I wish I didn't have to explain Why. That people would just respect my request and leave it at that. Nice to meet you!

  9. Well said & Great Post !!

  10. I started following your blog awhile ago after seeing you on BBC. I was in the same position as you, two girls and pregnant with #3 (a boy) and had gotten a positive quad screen for Down syndrome. We had a different end result than you, but for awhile I was sure we were having a child with Down syndrome. It is not even close to what you have gone through, but I've enjoyed keeping up with your blog and seeing your beautiful little boy grow. I have a close friend who has a daughter with Down syndrome and besides that, just as a human being, I love this post. I have been struggling to put into words why I hate the r word when I talk to people about it because they seem so flippant, like it doesn't matter and it DOES. People are ignorant and careless, that's the only excuses I can come up with. Thanks for letting me read.


  11. I agree with you. When I was in High school I used this word a lot... not in referance to someone with down syndrome... but as in that is stupid (retarded). When I found out I was pregnant with a little boy who had down syndrome I quickly took that work out of my vocabulary. I realised how it could be offensive. I don't view my son as retarded... but the word still stings at times. My husband had a co-worker who did something stupid and said it was his down syndrome comming out.... as you can imagine my husband took him aside and had a long talk with him (my husband is the ass. manager) His co-worker has been around our son a lot since then and thinks he's one of the best kids. People are just ignorant and need to be educated! Thanks for your post!


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