My internet was down all day yesterday, so I missed out on the Spread the Word Campaign. However, I've been spreading the word in my own way for a while now: I sent a letter to all of my email and facebook contacts a while back, and I'm now endeavoring to sell shirts and such to spread the word that "Retard is a hate word."
Mental retardation is still one of the most difficult aspects of Down syndrome for me to come to terms with. Finn is still only a baby, so it's really, really difficult to reconcile him with retarded. The future scares the crap out of me, because I know over time, his "retardation" will become more apparent. Why does this scare me? Not because I think he will be less than, or less deserving of dignity and respect. Not because I have this need to have perfect, high-achieving children. I guess it scares me because I know how society as a whole views people with mental retardation: they are the butts of jokes; they are ridiculed, laughed at, mimicked. And it scares me for more personal reasons too: what if I find it difficult to relate to my own son? Will he and I be able to communicate and have meaningful exchanges? Will he be able to take care of himself, and if so, to what extent? Will he be victimized because he just won't know better?
In any event, "retard" IS a hate word. There are people who will continue using this terminology despite the fact that they've been made aware of its implications. There are people who are more concerned about their right to free speech than the people they hurt with their words. There are people who will never take responsibility and insist that we parents and family members of people with intellectual disabilities are the ones with the problem. As I've written about before, Kevin has taken on a one-man campaign at his school and among his peers to raise awareness and do away with the R-word. There are kids who have responded very positively to his efforts and who now tell other people why they shouldn't use that language. Then there are kids who say to Kevin, "Why do you care?" Kevin then tells them that he has a brother with Down syndrome, and that the words "retard" and "retarded" hurt his brother and every other person with Down syndrome. And some of these kids have responded with, "So? Your brother's not here, right?" It just makes you kind of want to throw your hands up and say, "What's the use?"
I'm glad there's a whole big campaign out there now, and hopefully by the time Finn is old enough to hear and understand these words, "Retard" will no longer be on so many people's lips.
Adieu - After more than two years and 555 posts (556 counting this one!), I'm saying goodbye to Adventures in Motherhood. I'm ready for a change, and I've started ...
6 years ago