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.