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A blog about our busy family with two amazing kids, one of whom happens to have Down syndrome!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

It's apparently "Stop using the R word day".

Today is "Stop using the R word day". Or something.

I definitely understand the sentiment behind this, I really, really do. But doesn't the manner in which words are intended make a bigger difference?

What about special? What about special? The italicized word means something totally different. Though, in my opinion, when not used maliciously, is not offensive in the least. I have a cousin who is special. She's also special. I can promise that nobody in our family ever meant anything maliciously when referring to Debra as special. She is special, she's amazing! She also has some sort of intelletual disability.

It can also be generational. I met a really nice guy at ABC Warehouse who was just in love with Lauren. He said, "Two of my siblings are mentally retarded and I had a wonderful childhood."

Offensive? Heck no. Not even a tiny little bit. This guy's story left me feeling excited!

Mentally retarded, when used medically doesn't bug me at all either. I'm in the minority here, I know. It's still a legit medical term, even if it isn't "pretty" and makes us afraid of the future. It might not be in the new ICD 10 system, but I promise it is still used by doctors and nurses everywhere. At least it is where I work.

My fear is, what happens in 50 years when people start using "intellectualy disabled" as a slur? Then do we change the accepted vernacular again?

I'm just afraid that people will say the only thing worse than "retarded". Which is....nothing. Saying nothing is worse.

I don't want Down syndrome or any other disability to be taboo to talk about, simply because people don't know exactly the right way to say it. I feel the same way about Down's, Down's syndrome, etc. Doesn't bug me. I'm just happy to hear it said out loud.


Clearly, people need to be smart and use common some sense here. Retard is never okay when referring to someone with a disabililty. "Oh my gosh, you are so retarded!" to a friend is also not really okay. (Though I can't personally muster up the ability to be offended, thought I choose not to use it out of respect for my child and her friends.) There are better word choices!


I'm the minority here, so if you happened to stumble upon my blog when searching for "the best blogs ever" (ha!), don't use the term Down's, Downsy, etc.. when talking to other parents of kids with Down syndrome.


I really do get why people hate the R word so much and I am in no way meaning to minimize those feelings. I'm just sharing my own feelings.


Just kidding, there is no disclaimer #4


  1. I have shared some of those post "spread the word to end the word." But to be honest I have always struggled with the right words when it comes to a slightly new situation; especially a disability or culture/ethnicity. I can understand where you are coming from completely. I was uncertain how to feel when I first seen the post and being the girl who always struggled finding the right descriptive words I went with trusting that perhaps this was the best direction. I am glad to see an honest opinion from the other side. :)

  2. Actually you aren't as far off the way I think as you'd guess. I think you are absolutely right it is the context more than the word, "special" or "short bus" can be just a hurtful. I think the reason the I gets so upset about the r-word is you can't temper that one by telling yourself they didn't mean it to be hurtful by comparing a stupid act to a person with my childs condition. Just google the word and see what images you find - they are almost all of people with DS. This is a subject I feel strongly about solely because I dread the day I have to comfort my little girl because some bully said it to her on the playground. For some reason a slur based on a factual diagnosis is much harder to deal with then "stupid" or "dumb". Every parent I get to stop using it will stop thier kid form using it and that is the best I can do.

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