The r-word

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FRIENDS PLEASE TAKE A FEW MINUTES TO READ….I’m up late working on some adoption stuff because I know tomorrow is a crazy day. I opened up my phone to hop on Facebook to connect with some friends helping us with a fundraiser. As I scrolled through my Facebook feed , I saw a friend that had posted a graphic with the “r-word”. Now I just feel sick to my stomach. Like really sick.

And can I admit something to you? I have not yet sat down and had an official conversation with my kids about the “r-word”.

Why? I guess my excuse is that I have never heard them use it so I haven’t addressed it. But that day will come. The day when they hear someone else use it…and their friend get a few laughs..so then they repeat it…not really knowing what they are saying.

So tomorrow is that day. Tomorrow I will sit down my three older children and explain the “r-word” to them.

Here’s what I will say to my children…friends would you commit to taking ten minutes and talking to your children too?

Some people have what is called an “intellectual disability.” MinLan and Neely, your sisters, have an intellectual disability. John Preston, your brother, has an intellectual disability.

This means that it takes them longer to learn things than it takes you and I. They may need more explanation or maybe just more time to process what they are learning.

A long time ago, instead of it being called an intellectual disability…it was called “mental retardation”. Sometimes they were even called “retarded” by their doctors and other people that knew them.

At the time, those were not ugly words. They were not meant to be cruel or mean. That is just the name that their diagnosis was called. Just like we know people that have “cancer” or “diabetes”. These people a long time ago were “mentally retarded.”

The word “retard” means:

verb (used with object)
1. to make slow; delay the development or progress of (an action, process, etc.); hinder or impede.

verb (used without object)
2. to be delayed.

So you see, in the beginning…this word made sense. It made sense to use this word to describe people who were slow to learn.

Before we go any further, I want you to know that we do not use this word…I’ll explain more on that in a minute. From now on, if you ever hear mommy refer to it, I will call it the r-word.

So back to why we do not use this word. At some point a long time ago, people began to use the r-word in an ugly way.

They started to use it to describe themselves if they did something stupid or silly.

They started to use it to make fun of other people.

THAT is when it became an ugly word. THAT is when it became an unkind word to use.

There are over ONE MILLION words in the english language. If you need a word to describe something, choose a word OTHER than the r-word.

It is hurtful to people with intellectual disabilities like MinLan, Neely and John Preston.

It is hurtful to their family members that love them.

When you hear someone else use the r-word, SPEAK UP! Tell this person that the r-word is offensive to you and to others. Ask them to choose a different word.

The only way we can END the use of the r-word is tell other people how hurtful it is. We can introduce them to MinLan, Neely and John Preston. Then they can see just how amazing they are!

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