Words Make a Difference
Unbeknownst to the majority of people, using the word “retarded” or “retard” brings up a lot of feelings with parents of special needs children. It can be compared to the red flag that the matador holds up before a bull!
As the mother of a mentally retarded son with developmental disabilities, I do not understand what all the fuss is about. When Ira was born, the term “mentally retarded with developmental delays” was acceptable.
I can understand how the word “retarded” earned a bad name when children and adults. who were not knowledgeable about this community, used the words “retard” and “retarded” derogatively.
Society wants to use the words “intellectually disabled.” According to Dictionary.com, disabled mean “crippled; injured; incapacitated.” My son are none of those things. The word “disability” means “a physical or mental handicap, especially one that prevents a person from living a full, normal life or from holding a gainful job.” He might not be able to hold a fulltime job; he does live a full, normal life for him.
Instead of being hung up on the term, let’s bring awareness of this “special needs community” to the public. Let’s share with them how loving and productive these citizens can be. Let’s share with others how much they teach us. How much they fill our lives with joy when they take that first step, or utter their first words or tell us “they love us.”
Let’s band together and promote our special needs child. Let’s get air time and publicity to bring the wants and needs of this community to the eyes and attention of the world. Only with education will the stigma of being “retarded” or “special needs” be lessened.
Again, my son is loved unconditionally – no matter what word you use to describe him.
Oh, what do you say after you say you have a “special needs child” and the person wants to know what his special needs are?
Please post your thoughts below or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.