I of course share this movement with some bias.
If you’ve been a reader for any amount of time or just browsed my “about me” page you know that not only have I been an advocate of those that experience developmental disabilities for my entire life but that my daughter, who just happens to have a developmental disability, is the light and joy in my life.
Through the journey of advocacy I’ve learned more about love, respect, heart, and character through the victories, struggles, and sincerity of a single person with developmental disability, than I have from 1000 of non-disabled counterparts. The literally hundreds of individuals that I have had the surreal privilege of knowing and supporting over the years is not something that you can even put to words….a cliché, I know but true nonetheless.
Ms. Ma’am has taught me so much about myself than all of my time in the classroom, in love, in friendships, and all my life lessons combined….her confidence, virtuousness, and unpretentious character is all that I can hope to strive for but will never achieve at her capacity. To wish away her disability would be like wishing away a part of who she is. Her disability is just a very small part of who she is, it certainly doesn't define her……….. she is not her disability.
In my personal and professional role of advocacy, I try to model the behavior of person centered respect, a respect that I hope is reflected in all that I say and do. The words we say, how we say them, and our actions matter…..they are far too powerful to disregard.
I have not and will not ever see the humor in the referencing someone with the “R” word, it’s not funny, cute, or even considered accurate medical terminology; it's just plain ignorant.
The preferred terms for mental retardation are 'intellectual disability', 'cognitive disability', or, the broader term, 'developmental disability, the term Developmental disability is the more person centered term for mental retardation. Many of you may recall that well-publicized apology of former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, to advocates for the disabled for his use of the term during his time in office, sparking the conversation among congress and the people of the United States.
If you haven’t already taken the pledge to unlearn the “R” word, do it today! Not only is it a uniformed demonstration of ignorance but the derogatory connotations it carries is just plain ugly and “God don’t like ugly!”
The preferred terms for mental retardation are 'intellectual disability', 'cognitive disability', or, the broader term, 'developmental disability, the term Developmental disability is the more person centered term for mental retardation.
With President Obama’s enactment and congressional passage of Rosa’s Law (2010), changing ALL language references in Federal law from mental retardation to references of intellectual disability, and changing references to a mentally retarded individual (US Congress, 2010). The ARC of the United States (2013), advocates of those with DD, and self-advocates have become increasing politically organized and have overwhelmingly indicated their disapproval of the long outdated use of the term mental retardation.
So why on earth are we still allowing people to use it? Our doctors say it, kids throw it around loosely in order to insult one and other, and the public at large has done little to educate themselves or change their attitudes in regard to people with disabilities.
Differences do not make someone with a developmental disability any less of a thinking or feeling human being. The words we use are a reflection of how we see them………It’s high time that we organize ourselves and support this group of people just like we would any other group of people that are different than you, me, or even someone else that you know…black, white, green or purple; the time for respecting diversity is long overdue.
Attitudes don’t change overnight or all at the same time but they begin by changing one action, gesture, and person at a time.
Join Special Olympics and Best Buddies in eliminating the demeaning use of the R-word in everyday speech United States. To take the pledge or find out more, visit http://www.r-word.org/
Please read my disclosure