Ending the R-Word

Written by Amanda

Topics: Amanda's Blog

With World Down Syndrome day approaching, I felt that it was appropriate to share and promote a movement that is aiming to stop derogatory speech towards individuals with intellectual disabilities. It’s called “spread the word to end the word” and the word is retard.  This word is so common place in many people’s everyday speech and at one point it was in mine as well. I was not using it intentionally to insult people with intellectual disabilities it was just a word I used to tease a friend or put something down. Now I know all too well how derogatory this word truly is and I think that it’s time to stop letting it fly under the radar, it’s time to shoot it down.

Five years ago I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl with Down syndrome. I knew that she would have to work hard to accomplish things that came easily to others; I knew that her health was a concern and she would need surgery and cardiac follow up, but what concerned me more than that was how people would treat her because of those things. I knew that not everyone would see her for the extraordinary person God created her to be. I knew that someday we would tackle prejudices and ignorance and the R-word.

Well meaning people that I love and who love Chloe, have told me that I just have to get over it (referring to the r-word); people use language they don’t fully understand the consequences of and I would need to toughen up and not get offended. I cannot accept this. I believe that people can be educated and informed and choose not to use hurtful speech. I believe that this word needs to disappear from our vocabularies.It starts with me and it starts with you. We can choose to stop saying it. We can choose to inform others.

To a family with a loved one with special needs and to that individual, the r-word in all its variations is as offensive as the N-word or any other hate filled term. It is unacceptable.  My sweet, compassionate, intelligent, joyful daughter is not a punch line to someone’s cruel joke. She is not a derogatory term to be tossed about carelessly.She is not an insult. She is a child of God made in his image, and a beautiful reflection of his character and love. “What you say can preserve life or destroy it; so you must accept the consequences of your words” Proverbs 18:21 so please take the pledge to end this word, and chose to use your words to encourage and speak life into others instead of tearing them down. World Down Syndrome day is March 21, lets make it count. Post your pledge to your Facebook or twitter and share, together we can make the world a little better for people with intellectual disabilities:)end the word

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