Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Would you call my child a retard?



"I use the word retard every day."

"A campaign against a word is retarded."

"Thicken up ur skin and stop taking this stuff so seriously!"

"Being called a retard is a common insult that is usually deserved by the recipient."

"To speak out against the use of just one word, simply because it's personal to you, is unacceptable."

These are some of the recent comments I've gotten on posts about how demeaning the word "retard" is. Last year, when I did that Twitter project where I tweeted at people who used the word retard, I got responses that were even more lovely. 

Today is Spread The Word To End The Word Day, part of an ongoing campaign against the r-word created by The Special Olympics. As I write this, close to 250,000 people have signed a pledge against the word "retard." A kajillion more don't get what's so wrong. And so, I made this video.


Most people would never call a kid with cognitive disabilities a "retard" to his face (and if you are a person who would do that, step away from this blog and go search for your soul). If you wouldn't say the word to my child because you know it's offensive, you should avoid using it elsewhere, too. Either way, it's demeaning. Either way, it hurts my child.

Feel free to post the video on your blog, tweet it, Facebook it, beam it up to alternative life forms. It would mean a lot to me. No matter what, thanks for taking a look.

Ultimately, this isn't just about a word—it's about respect. It's about getting people to consider kids and adults with cognitive impairment equal members of society. It's not about censorship, either; it's about starting a conversation on how people can better treat Max and others like him.

Max has enough challenges to overcome in life without being haunted by ghosts of stereotypes past. As his mom, I want to give him every possible advantage. If asking people to not use a word could help my son in some way, you bet I'm going to ask.
 


Video created at Animoto 

187 comments:

  1. Calling an action, a thing or a person " retarded " is very insulting! I don't wish anything bad on ppl, but I often wonder if these ppl had a child or children born with or later diagnosed with a disability they would slack on the negative use if the word!!

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  2. I am sharing this widely, because it is so important. My husband's sister has Down's, and when she was a child, they called her retarded b/c that is what the doctors called her. He loves her very much and doesn't think of the word as being demeaning. It's just what he's always called her, along with his brother and mom. I've had many conversations with him about this, and it's been a real uphill battle to get him to understand why the word is offensive. But I have finally succeeded. I hope you succeed with your campaign.

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  3. Perfect and very powerful. Thank you, Ellen!!!

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  4. SO powerful, Ellen. Sharing all over the place. Amazing job! XO

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  5. Excellent! I posted on this subject today as well. (www.deannajsmith.com) A subject very dear to my heart. Thank you for this post!

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  6. I loved the video Ellen. It was incredibly powerful and really put a fine point on why it is so wrong to use these words.

    I am proud to stand with you today asking people to stop using these words.

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  7. This seems like a waste of time and energy to worry about a word. There are far greater things in the world to worry about, its too bad you are so easily offended by something so trivial.

    Kids get picked on no matter what, teaching them to have self esteem and loving them as they are is more important than this failed effort that is not going to amount to anything.

    Best of luck to you and yours.

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    Replies
    1. She has a right to promote respect. So do you. But you are abusing your rights so go away.

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    2. You calling an insulting word "trivial" shows that you do not have a loved one with disabilities and therefore do not understand the negative effects of such a demeaning word. Your comment is just rude and insensitive.

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    3. If you had someone in your life with this kind of diablility and you heard others using this word to desribe something slow, incompetent, or stupid you'd be offened too. Let her write and peace and don't comment if you are going to be rude. You don't know her leave her be.

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    4. Thank you 1st anonymous poster. I dont use the word retard to hurt those with low cognitive abilities. However I dont understand how using the word in non offensive contexts is going to hurt Max.

      To the 2nd anon poster why did you say she does not have a child with a disability. For all you know, she may have one and still disagree respectfully.

      I did hope you other three anon posters would not say such crap about the first one. Like how he/she is 'rude' or your comment is 'rude and unsensitive' Or they are 'abusing their rights'.

      I'm really ashamed of you three anon posters, your comments were rude downright rude. And, you should have better things to do then to be rude to someone else and make stupid assumptions.

      Like they do not understand the negative effects of such a demeaning word. How the hell do you know anon the first didnt understand the negative effects of retard, eh? You have no proof at all.

      Do you ever look at the contexts of retard. If you did you will soon understand that if the word is used in non offensive contexts its okay.

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    5. Well, calling someone a retard is demeaning to all people who actually are mentally retarded. It seems like retard has become an insult, which is like hitler shouting 'you're a Jew!' At someone.

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  8. I posted on the topic of the #Rword too this week: http://spectrummymummy.com/2012/03/05/only-words/ and am proud to stand with you on this!

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  9. I have not used this word since elementary school.... many many years ago. When I entered Jr. High school. I was faced with 100's of new students as 4 or 5 schools all promoted to this school. The new array of students was overwhelming and educational. We were taught that the "R" word was an insult period. From that moment on I have not used it and My now grown children have NEVER used it. You must teach respect as a parent and lead by example. I am stunned how often I hear and see people use that word. When I can I say something not as to embarrass them only to quietly educate them to their language. This is a powerful Video. Max can change the world one view at a time...

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  10. This is beautifully done. It will be my pleasure to pass it on, although I think this is a lot less of a problem in the UK, we have our own selection of steriotypes too.

    Take care Xx

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  11. I see kids in school using this word on a daily basis & while I think it mean word (I also have a mentally challenged family member)
    The problem that I have, thanks to my daughter pointing it out, is that right up the road from the school is A.R.C. *Association for Retarded Citizens* www.TheARC.org
    My daughter doesn't use the word but was concerned that an organization that helps people would use an offensive word...it really sends mixed messages to out kids.

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    Replies
    1. Arc changed their name in 1992 to The Arc of the United States, and this change is due a great deal to the fact that the 'r-word' is now used as demeaning and derogatory. If you want to read more about their name changes you can here:
      http://www.thearc.org/page.aspx?pid=2344

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  12. I have always disliked the word and find myself correcting those who choose to use it to demean someone. It's very nasty & disrespectful & I will definitely sign the petition to banish it from our vocabulary!!! "Scary Mommy" on Facebook shared your blog, and I shared it on my wall. I hope that's ok. Thank you for posting your story!!!

    P.S. Max is such an adorable boy with a super contagious smile!!! You are blessed!!! <3

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  13. I actually work for the ARC and that name was chosen 60 some odd years ago when "Retarded" was an actual, clinical diagnoses (which incidentally (and unfortunately)...it still is). While the association chose to not change it's name, nothing anywhere is ever "association for retarded citizens." We are simply The ARC.

    This is a fabulous campaign though. People on the street don't call each other retarded as a clinical term, they say it to be MEAN and that is the point. It has come to be a derogatory and hateful term and that is what needs stopped.

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  14. Well said and love the video! I hope you got the e-mail I sent with a video about the same subject. It was very moving as well. I'm so glad to see such a movement to stop the use of this dreadful word!

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  15. Thank you for this post; it opened my eyes to something I hadn't really thought about. I have an honest question for you. What would be the best way to explain Max to my 6-year-old daughter when she takes notice and asks, "So what's going on with that kid?" She's very perceptive, and I want to use the right words to let her know that differences are a good thing. What do you like for other kids (and adults, for that matter!) to know about Max?

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  16. Another great post Ellen. I will be sharing the video with the principal of my son's school. This is an issue that we have been dealing with. Your video is amazing.
    kct

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  17. Re-posting and sharing and hoping others will feel as inspired by your powerful video. Thank you Ellen. Thank you!

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  18. What an incredible and moving video, so glad you are doing so much to stop the r-word.

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  19. I am a special ed teacher and we stopped using "THE" word last year.We were all so relieved to not have to use that word when discussing students any more. It really has a negative connotation and it is not necessary to use it to diagnose a child. Your son Max is beautiful! Keep up the good work!

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  20. My Shelby had a stroke last year due to medical negligence. He went from being at the top of his class to barely passing, not to mention having to learn everything all over again. He cries every time calls him a name like this! EVERY TIME! It slays us as parents. I shared your video on my facebook page and I can put it on the blog I just started as well, although I don't really have any traffic yet.

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  21. I don't have a child with an intellectual disability, but I do have a nine year old son, and I would do anything in my power to support him and protect him. I have signed the pledge to "Spread the Word," and I support you and your work. Keep up the fight for change!

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  22. Excellent.

    And perfect for the day -- for everyday.

    Thank you.

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  23. RETARD can mean a lot of things people not all bad you know such as . I need to retard the timeing in my car or don't be a retard because you do something stupid All I am saying is people don't be so sensitive.

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    Replies
    1. You are obviously not a person with any conection with individuals with special needs. Or much empathy.

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    2. I've always wondered how its offensive to use a word that accurately describes a condition. To be retarded is to be delayed. But...common sense does not exist among these soft people. And I do lack empathy for soft people. Maybe sympathy or pity...but no, I can't empathize with sissies who seek to "banish words from the vocabulary"...these are probably te same people who would take "nigger" out of Huck Finn and replace it with "the N-word". Toughen up, buttercups!

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  24. This reminds me of the "Right Speech" part of the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism, which asks us to try to only say things that cause no harm.

    I think if this word causes harm to you, to other parents, to family members, to friends and to the children and adults themselves, then it's an obvious choice.

    Don't say it.

    Don't cause unnecessary harm.

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  25. Absolutely flippin beautiful!
    Great post and great video.
    Thank you!

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  26. Great post! I'll do all I can to spread the word! I was shocked when my kids reported to me that their friends use the R-word, among others, such as "sped." Where do they get this from? I've tried to talk to my kids enough about these words so that they hopefully sting their ears.

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  27. Thank you. You are brave, you are blessed and God gave you the strength to be that way, for your son's sake and every one else who is affected by cognitive disabilities.

    Thank you.

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  28. Thank you so much for posting this. I've always taken a very strong stance against using that word, and work (oh so very patiently) with my friends so they understand why I don't include it in my vocabulary, and for them to understand the implications of when they do choose to use that word.

    I think my lack of any direct link to the world of individuals with developmental disabilities discredits my arguments in their eyes, though, so this is a really great back up video to keep in my pocket.

    I think you do great work for inclusion--in both directions. I've read your blog for a while now, and I really love how you work on bridging the gap between Max, and other folks with disabilities, and the world. Especially how you make that road a very open, two way street.

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  29. My 4th grade daughter has become very good friends with her classmate who happens to have downs syndrome. Emily has grown to love Hannah and feels protective of her. We were recently reading a book for a mother/daughter book club we attend and the book "the girl who could fly" uses the word retard a few times near the beginning. This felt so hurtful to Emily that she did not want to read the book and we chose to just skip this month's book club and do something different that night. I enjoyed your video and find it interesting that my ten year old daughter all on her own discovered that that word you discuss is destructive and her love for Hannah has made the word unbearable to her to hear.

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  30. My 4th grade daughter has become very good friends with her classmate who happens to have downs syndrome. Emily has grown to love Hannah and feels protective of her. We were recently reading a book for a mother/daughter book club we attend and the book "the girl who could fly" uses the word retard a few times near the beginning. This felt so hurtful to Emily that she did not want to read the book and we chose to just skip this month's book club and do something different that night. I enjoyed your video and find it interesting that my ten year old daughter all on her own discovered that that word you discuss is destructive and her love for Hannah has made the word unbearable to her to hear.

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  31. The R word is one of the most insulting and derogatory terms ever created. My kids know that it is on the same level as curse words if they would even attempt to use it. I wish everyone felt the same way, and that people could understand how hurtful it can be when used to flippantly. Good luck to you and Max!

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  32. Retarded is just a word. If you choose to let it hurt you, then guess what? It will. I understand that as a mom, you would do anything to protect your son, but the fact of the matter is some ignorant (another offense word...OH LETS BAN IT) person will, at some point, call your son retarded or worse. It would serve your son better to prepare him for this and explain to him the lack of understanding behind such acts.

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    1. It's not about censorship! It is about respect, so go away and call yourself that!

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    2. I find it interesting that calling someone a name is considered a right of passage of childhood.
      Imagine this, if you will: People agree from this moment forward to teach their children that calling anyone names (regardless of the word or whether in jest) is not acceptable. They actually set the example of good behavior and enforce it. Result: Parents would never have to 'prepare' their children for when someone calls them a name that hurts. What a world that would be!

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  33. Similarly,Don't label your child with words like "Autism"and ADHD.It is only one problem in their life not their whole identity.

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    1. One should definitely not use "Autistic" or "ADHD" as insults, but they can be useful labels that help a person understand themself, explain themself to others, and get necessary help. Also, there is a whole Autistic community that feels like being Autistic is a very important part of their identity.

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  34. The negative impact this word has hurts people across the world, some without ID. My brother for instance has cerebral palsy, he is fortunate that his condition is all physical. He has no ID from his condition, but because his speech is slurred and he has an unsteady walk many people refer to him as "retarded", an unfair word. How do you explain to a child (my brother in this case) who understands what the word is and knows that he is not "retarded" that people are just ignorant? Educating people is the first step. Starting with how derogatory this word is and the negative affects it has on people is important. Hopefully this campaign will help communities understand the importance all people with all disabilities can have in our lives, not only as humans but citizens.

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  35. That word would not be an insult if it were used properly. Originally it means "slow/slower". That's all. And since we all learn and recognise at different speeds, then it's only a relative comparison, and the judgement passed is arbitrary. For instance, I have to read most peoples blogs twice, sometimes thrice. That makes me, perhaps, in relation/comparison to you retarded. That doesn't however, automatically qualify me as stupid; just retarded compared to you, perhaps. Hence, when you think about it carefully, everyone (without exception) is retarded in some aspect in their lives.

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  36. When the use of the word is a derogatory reference to "intellectually disabled" persons, then yes, such use should be avoided. The fact of the matter, though, is that there are two distinct contexts in which people use the word "retarded". One being the aforementioned offensive usage, the second being to describe something as being slower or delayed. Every dictionary clearly, and appropriately, marks the first as being slang, however, the slang is derivative of the actual literal definition of the word, which is not offensive. So to say that all use of the term should be avoided is like saying that games and sports shouldn't use balls to be played because "balls" is a slang term for testicles derived from the "similar" spherical shapes. I understand that there are far more negative and severe connotations with the word "retard" than there are with "balls", however to ban the term altogether is absolutely ridiculous. By focusing on the term so vehemently, your cause only invites more usage of the word by those who are indifferent (of which there are many) and incites those who would use the term in the same negative ways you're trying to prevent it from being used in to not only continue to do so, but find even more "creative" ways to do it.


    As for your inquiry, "Would you call my son a retard to his face?", this is what I have to say:

    No, obviously, I would not, even though I do use the term to describe the actions of some of my friends and/or acquaintances to their face. My best friend, that I've known since I've known people, had an uncle with Down's syndrome and when I was a child I would catch myself using the term with him around. I always felt bad, however not because I felt like a jerk, but because I understood that what I said could be misinterpreted as having offensive intentions. Connotations are things that we as individuals and groups place on words, and I simply did not associate the word "retarded" with those affected by mental or intellectual disabilities. The guilt came from the fact that I knew other people were wound so tight about it that no matter the context, they would always take it personally.

    I considered myself to be a good person and still do. For example, I was the only one who would hang out with another old friend of mine while he had Leukemia in the first grade, and so as a good person I felt bad for hurting others' feelings, even though that hurt came from a misunderstanding. But to require everyone to be nicer to you or your loved ones based on your standards of etiquette because it just hurts too much for you to deal with it only adds to the negative connotations society has with mental/intellectual disabilities because you are asking for treatment that they don't even afford themselves on a regular basis. It also does not promote an idea of strength(for lack of a better word) when one thinks about such disabilities.

    And after all, we live in America. That means you are asking us to allow ourselves to be denied our Constitutional right to free speech in order for your or your loved ones' feelings to not be hurt. Granted, it's not too big of a deal for us to simply try using a different term when, for example, our friends do dumb things compared to the hurt that it has the potential to cause. However, jumping all over us every time the word slips out will only cause us to avoid you and disagree with you. Not to mention that your logic for wanting to ban the term "retard" or "retarded" rests on a rather slippery slope as I pointed out before when talking about sports.

    What I'm saying is stop focusing so much on the terminology and focus more on spreading the word about accomplishments and merits of those with intellectual disorders while making steps to put to rest common, negative misconceptions about the disability.

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    Replies
    1. It's not about censorship. It's about respect.

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    2. I agree with the long poster. I am sorry but you just cannot have freedom of speech and then insist one rude word is banned. Where is the logic in that? It does not work that way sorry. There will ALWAYS ALWAYS be rude words used.

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  37. You are blessed to have such an wonderful child. And Max is blessed to have such a loving mother.
    Allan

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  38. Thank you for this. I will be using your video as part of my Intelligence and Creativity lecture for my high school Introduction to Psychology class.

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  39. Great post Ellen!

    It always amazes me how people will argue and argue that they have the right to use the 'r' word as apejorative. Fine go ahead. But I will lose all respect for you as a person.

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  40. When George Orwell wrote 1984 (in 1948) his dystopian future was controlled by a hardline government that sought to eliminate words people use in order to control thought. You may have kind intentions but you are the start of the slippery slope. As people's opinions make words and thoughts "wrong" and "politically incorrect" thru media influence, how long until "freedom", "personal choice" become banned ideas? Not as farfetched as you might think, you retard.

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  41. fabulous, just plain fabulous

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  42. powerful, life affirming and changing. thank you max, and max's momma of course

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  43. I must say that I am guilty of using the word on occasion, even though my mother worked with the DD for years. I do actively try to catch myself and re-word things...like asking my kids "what's your major malfunction?" or telling them "...when you act that way, people are going to think that you aren't very smart"

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  44. i am so disappointed in peoples using the word retard i mean really don't u feel ashamed calling some 1 that word especially people with ADHD and cerebral palsy. its just rude plain rude and 1 more thing treat people the way u want to be treated. and i know nobody would want to be called a retard or retarded.

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  45. i myself used the word retard with someone who has ADHD i felt so ashamed i couldn't believe myself but what i did was i apologized so many times and begged for forgivness and never used that word again because i know i wouldn't like it if some 1 used it on me so i stopped using it on people. please everyone stop calling 1 another retard.

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  46. I am 100% in support of you and your mission. I feel like I have spent my entire adult life on my own mini-mission. I'm constantly amazed that others don't hear the words "retard" and "retarded" the same way I do. I don't understand why it's OK to use these words, but not other, equally discriminatory, ones.

    Keep up the good work!

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  47. Excellent post. FYI, I borrowed your video and posted on my blog.

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  48. This is so wonderfully said. I hope you won't mind if I quote you on my own blog.
    I have a daughter with Down syndrome and I want to do my part in spreading this message to others.

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  49. Borrowed your video and posted to facebook. It is an amazing video and speaks volumes! I case manage for adults with developmental disabilities and wish people would "get it." I wish I knew how to make them understand and think your video is amazing!

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  50. By making the video above you made yourself seem like a retard

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    Replies
    1. You just aren't a happy person, are you?

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    2. Sorry I meant to say that to the person you replied to

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  51. Thank you for your efforts to change peoples views on the r word. I have a beautiful special needs granddaughter who will be 9 years old the end of the month and when the school system gave her the label retarded our whole family became out raged. She was born "SPECIAL"!

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  52. Yes. I would call your child a retard

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    Replies
    1. Thank God she is a member of our family and not yours!

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    2. I have a lot of disabled friends. Quit hurting me and my swag tastic friends.

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  53. I've been thinking of you all day Ellen. You're so brave and inspiring. xo

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  54. I have a DD son with retardation. I am one of the few it doesn't bother even if it's used in a context that you don't appreciate such as, "I am such a retard" when I made a mistake. We aren't that sensitive as his parents and have chosen to move forward away from this political correct junk.

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  55. Thank you for this! I am proud to share it on Facebook and on my own blog. This is a hard topic, but it is so crucial to get the dialogue going. Thank you for being brave.

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  56. Ellen, thank you so much for this! I'm sharing it far and wide!
    ~ Keri

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  57. Beautiful, inspiring and powerful message.
    I always correct people when they use that word. I hate that word.
    Thank you for making people aware.

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  58. Thanks for posting this Ellen! It's going to be posted on my blog in a few days: www.lifeasaleach.blogspot.com I often link to your posts because I love them so much! Thanks for being your vulnerability and for having thick skin when you have to deal with negative comments. I'm so saddened to read some of the comments here and on the You Tube video page. WE are the lucky ones who get the be the parents of these awesome kids! Hugs to you!

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  59. Thanks to those of you who shared supportive words and the video. To those of you who'd like to engage in an intellectual discussion about why I shouldn't care about this word, you're wasting your typing. The word is offensive to me and many other people. I'm going to raise awareness about it, in the hopes of raising awareness about how people generally treat kids with special needs. Like I said above, this isn't just about a WORD.

    Meanwhile, I've deleted posts with foul language. And I've told your mother.

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    Replies
    1. Ellen do please ask yourself what will this campaign accomplish? How will it improve the lives of disabled people?

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  60. Your son is beautiful. You are beautiful. We're all so lucky to have you both. Sharing this like crazy.

    Go Ellen!

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  61. I love love love the video. It bothers me when people use that word also but everyone was raised differently and some like to be ignorant ect. I personally don't use that word, I don't call people it or joke with people like that. I have kids and how they are talked to matters to me and when I see or hear people degrading or talking down about others that can't others can do Its sad. God bless you and your family as well as the others in this world who are dealing with the same thing you are. Love, Peace, Happiness, Always keep GOD first. He is the solution to all problems

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  62. This is such a beautiful post. I cringe every time I hear someone use the r-word.

    My blog doesn't get much traffic, but I shared your video and a link to your blog. http://tiny.cc/dq4f2b

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  63. As an aunt of a beautiful woman who is developmentally delayed, I've always felt pain to hear anyone referred to as "retarded" or "lame". I appreciate your blog and thoughts.

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  64. OK. I will.

    I tend to use this word a lot. it rolls off the tongue at work. And it probably shouldn't. So I'll think of Max, and hope it will stop.

    I'm sorry. I never actually meant this to be hurtful to anyone.

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    Replies
    1. You are a quality individual. Thank you for your honesty.

      Delete
  65. Me: Oh my gosh this woman I know is featured on CNN.com tonight!

    Daughter: How do you know her.

    Me: Um, well I read her blog all the time.

    Daughter: OMG MOM! You do NOT know her!

    But I feel like I do. Congrats Ellen. So awesome!

    XOXO,
    Annie

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  66. Hey -- I just saw your picture on cnn! Way to go!

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  67. First: Cognitive impairment and intellectual disability are not the same thing. For instance, dementia is a cognitive impairment, but not an intellectual disability.

    Second: Cerebral palsy is not an intellectual disability, it is a physical disability that has a higher than average co-morbidity with intellectual disabilities.

    Third: If I were a neurologist or a psychologist making a clinical diagnosis I would call a retarded child a retard "to their face", and I wouldn't lose any sleep over it.

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  68. Wonderful. Thanks for sharing. I will certainly be posting this with a link back to you.

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  69. I think this is a wonderful campaign, and I wish you much luck on changing people's attitudes. My thoughts are that it's the heart of the person, not the words used, that matter. People who would use the "R" word may stop using that specific word, but will replace it with another one. Each time that happens, as a society we just add more, previously benign, words that carry a hurtful connotation. I have taught my children not to use the "R" word, but more importantly I have taught them to have thick skin.

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  70. Great post & shared.

    I was completely ignorant to the hurt it caused. I would attack anyone who would dare say the word faggot, nigger or anything even similar so i'm ashamed to say I never even thought about the "R" word. Stupid of me & apologies to you, your son and anyone else with special needs or anyone who has a family/ friend with special needs.

    For those of you who say she's being over sensitive & that she should prepare her son for this would you say the same to the mother of a homosexual child or would you say to a person of African descent they were being "sensitive" when called the N word?

    As of today I wont be using this word again. Thanks for educating.

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  71. It love it when people say that freedom of speech is their Constitutional right [I'm looking at you, person who wrote, "After all, we live in America]. To them I say, "Your stupidity is showing. Go and actually READ the Constitution before you go spouting off about your rights."

    Freedom of speech means you can say that you don't like our government and not go to jail for it. Freedom of speech does *not* mean you get to be a hateful jerk.

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  72. How about the fact that "retarded" actually means...retarded. The mother is just too sensitive to reality.

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  73. Great video Ellen. Some very interesting comments here. There is still a lot of work to be done.

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  74. My dad used to say "it's all fun and games until someone gets their eye poked out" - I think it can be changed - "it's all funny and not hurtful, until you have a child that's intellectually disabled".
    Although I have not worked with many who are intellectually disabled - I have found that each person I dealt with was the sweetest most loving person. So innocent and pure with the biggest heart - how could anyone relate that to a derogatory word.
    I think it's perfectly acceptable to use "retard" when it's used properly - not as an insult or joke.

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  75. You said in your blog "People would never call a kid with cognitive disabilities a "retard" to his face" and I can unfortunately say that you are wrong on that account. My child, who has C.P. and no other disability, has been called that to his face since he was 3 years old. It never mattered that even as a label it was incorrect. It hurt him to have his peers call him that and almost destroyed him to have teachers and educators say the same thing. His principle said during one meeting in front of him that he was just bad seed. He did as suggested and learned how to "suck it up" but it took a long time and made him very hateful towards anyone who was not a "safe" person. Safe people were family(but not all to my shame) some real friends, parents of/and other children with disabilities. When he was about 8 a little girl had a crush on him and like kids do at that age, just pestered him. When I talked to her mother about it, she told me the little girl had a crush and she could not figure out why she would like a gimp legged retard anyway. People can be mean, ugly and hateful and all you can do is as you are doing changing one heart one mind one day at a time.

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  76. Beautifully written call to action! Your Max is beautiful and the video had me crying.
    Thank you fro bringing awareness and putting face to the campaign.

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  77. There is room to use the term retarded in a clinical sense to describe a condition, delay, etc. I believe better and more specific descriptions are being developed, as retarded is a very non-specific term. So I wouldn't be surprised to read it in a medical article or clinical notes or used in a way not referring to developmentally delayed individuals. That said, there is no reason ever to refer to a person as a retard, which is purely pejorative, NEVER medical, and if any professional used that term to describe a developmentally disabled person, or just as a "silly" way to make fun of a friend, they lack any type of ethics. The same of those who continue to use the word as a put down: poor ethics, terrible reasoning (no one ever demanded a draconian ban of the word, just suggested that, hey, you might want to realize that using it marks you as a classless insensitive person who is intentionally hurting a marginalized part of our population), and likely take pride in the fact that you can prove how much better you are than others by flexing your power over the weak. Those around you recognize this posturing as pathetic overcompensation for what you lack. Really, think before you use it, it says SO much more about you than it does about your intended target.

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  78. I think that it is quite embarrassing for anyone to called a child a retard. Kids need all of the confidence they can get

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  79. I don't use the r-word, and gently correct people who do, but I think it is entirely too short-sighted to focus just on one word. Bullies will think of other ways to attack people they don't like, and misconceptions and stereotypes will still circulate. I think education about the broader issues, rather than just "Don't say that word!" is the more effective way to go.

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  80. I LOVED your video and your post. I re-posted it to my FB. I am absolutely shocked at some of the comments here. You are much more gracious than I am. You are brave and strong and Max is inspiring!

    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  81. ellen, i love your blog as usual. i have a younger sister who is mentally retarded. when we were little, i'd get pissed at her cuz she'd always get my ass in trouble. my parents thought she could do no wrong because she was slow but the truth is, she was very clever and would get me in trouble all the damn time. she'd make up lies about me all the time! for example, "mommy, kathy called you a f*cking b!tch today" even though i NEVER did!!! OMG! unbelievable, it's been over 20 years and i still haven't gotten over this sh!t. LMAO! i'm nuts. so anyways, i'd be all, "shut up, retard!" or "get outta my way, stupid retard!" and maybe i would've called her those names even if she wasn't retarded but anyways, i was a kid and didn't know better, and now i feel awful for doing that many many years ago. and i truly truly truly think my baby ended up with his brain injury because i'm being punished for that. i mean, yes i deserve to be punished for that but why couldn't god have just given me a terrible disease or something? he didn't have to punish my BABY. my innocent baby. ok i officially just sounded freakin' crazy with this post cuz i completely digressed. max is too cute btw.

    ReplyDelete
  82. http://www.schuylersmonsterblog.com/2011/05/just-word.html

    Great post...read the linked post. I LOVE the test he gives that allows each of us decide if the word retard is something we feel comfortable using in a vocabulary. I totally think if everyone took that test they might start seeing things differently.

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  83. I am no longer blogging due to sickness, but i participated in this campaign last year and the year before. I pray that soon we won't need to have it at all because people will have stopped using such hateful, offensive language towards one another. Thank you for bringing awareness to such an important issue. Your son is a lovely and wonderful gift from God and anyone who can't see that needs to get some help!

    ReplyDelete
  84. I posted my previous comment before I went through and read some of the other comments, I couldn't believe some of the hateful things I saw. We have changed our language in this country over the years many times as we have grown and evolved. You would never use the "N" word to describe an African American person, but at one time people considered that alright as well! Just because a word existed in time doesn't make it okay to continue to use it! Plus, if someone is telling you a word if hurtful to them, why would you even consider continuing to use it? Do you really enjoy hurting other people?

    This isn't a silly issue and this isn't an overwrought Mom. We should all spend less time calling each ther names and more time being compassionate and kind to each other. We certainly would have the start of a better world, and a better nation, if we did.

    Don't let the unkind comments get you down, I am so proud of you!

    ReplyDelete
  85. I agree that the use of retard in an insulting fashion is very insulting and I would not use it in a demeaning way. However, I agree with my sister in law who is a NP that the use of retard in medical terms just means delayed in some way. Why not call it delayed you say? Because we still do use retarded in other terms is what she told me and went on to list a few things that still use it. She can't use it anymore in her notes as an NP to explain why a child is "delayed" or retarded on the scales she has to use for medical diagnoses, etc. However, she is a medical professional so why should a whole entire profession change because of derogatory remarks by small and narrow minded people? I agree to spread the word to end the word but I think making the field that has been your ally (and your enemy at times) is really pushing it to far. Just an opinion.

    ReplyDelete
  86. I used to volunteer for the Special Olympics and after doing so I decided that I would use my experience working with them as my college writing submission. I specifically wrote about this word and how I felt that no one should be using it, and I talked about how all these beautiful children had really inspired me in my life. That was over 10 years ago!! I'm glad to see this campaign and I hope that others are educated about this and if they still want to use that word they should spend the day volunteering with the Special Olympics because it will change your life!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  87. Your video was beautiful and perfectly stated. I have felt so sad each time I hear that word and the hurt that comes with it, intentional or not. Thank you for taking a stand, and stating truth in this dark world. Your son is light.

    ReplyDelete
  88. Actually, I think by getting so offended by use of the term when it is not being used in a demeaning way towards your son, you are spreading the conception that using the term signfies kids like him are slow, dumb, losers etc etc. When I occasionally call something "retarded", people with intellectual disabilities do not come to mind at all, and I myself am a disabled person. I call myself a "cripple" all the time and have no problem with others doing the same as long as it is not in a derogatory way. I could get offended by the word "lame", could I not? But people use it all the time to describe things. I see retarded as the same and do not think using the term to describe something connotates those things about those with disabilities at all. I could understand if people use it instead of using the phrase an "intellectual disability", but you're not talking about that here. Language changes and instead of being stuck in the past and being offended, maybe you should change with it.

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  89. I find it interesting that many of those who have a problem with banning this word don't have the courage to attach their name to their comment - they choose to remain "anonymous". They have the courage to use the word, but not enough to attach their name to it. That in itself speaks volumes... I have a name for people like that, but I choose to take the high road and, rather than exchange ignorant insults, will simply pity them.

    ReplyDelete
  90. I do have a son who is severly retarded and handicapped. That is the name the doctors use and that is the way we discribe it. having said that my other children know enough NOT to say that word unless the person really is handicapped. I could get used to not using it I guess however I think any word you change it to will soon be used just like retard is today by many people. You have to change peoples mind set on the word not the word.To me and my other children "retart" is not a dirty word if used correctly. It is just a word they call their brother and they love him anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  91. If you choose to use the word "retarded" when there are so many other words that mean the same thing but aren't insulting to people like Max and his family, then you're deliberately demeaning people with disabilities. Even if you say you'd never say it to somebody with a disability or if you're not thinking about disabled people when you're saying it. Pick a different word. It's not that hard, but it means a lot.

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  92. Good news!! The Iowa legislature, with two unanimous votes (50-0 Senate, 92-0 House) has approved a bill that will strike those words from the Iowa State code. The bill now goes to Gov. Terry Branstad, who has indicated he supports it and will sign it. :)

    ReplyDelete
  93. Re: Patty. This is Anon commenter who stated that they use the word crippled and could get offended by the word lame etc.
    The reason I personally use anonymity to comment is that the last time I published my identity along with my comment on a blog post that was controversial like this one, I had a string of abuse thrown at me by angry mothers who didn't agree with my opinions and resorted to abuse simply because of this fact.
    Irony and assumptions such as yours - love it!

    ReplyDelete
  94. I have a 23 year old Special Needs daughter. We are so very tired of hearing the demeaning word "retard" used so often these days. I think the word is being perpetuated by the Entertainment Industry. I made an 18 1/2 minute documentary titled "It's Just Not Funny". I've pasted the links to parts one and two on YouTube. It's one video, but a must see of both parts. It's also on IMDB. Please watch it. It will make you smile, feel happy, and surprised to know there is still a chance for this derogatory word to stop being used. We're all on the same side. It's a homemade doc., but it's one parents stand, mine.
    Thanks, Jeff Dreyer
    JeffDreyer@cox.net


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQl5JUNgToM


    Use this for Part 2:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYa1k3dcliM

    ReplyDelete
  95. I had a sister we used to call "retarded". The term was in the process of becoming an offensive term even back then (50's)but something inside me awoke me to the fact that it sounded offensive and hurtful and I stopped using it. Always loved my sister immensely and learned slowly (maybe I was the "retarded one") that she was a long ways ahead of most of the rest of us in other areas, like humility, trust, joy and free spirit. I wanted to be like her in so many ways. She died three years ago and still daily I wish she was still here to talk to and learn from. Thankyou for your blog on this subject just to make us think and discuss about our use and misuse of the "R" word. That is a good thing. Wouldn't miss it if it disappeared off the planet. But there will always be the hurtful people who think they're doing the world a favor by telling the rest of us to not be so sensitive, yet they too have their soft spots no matter how hard they appear on the surface. They are to be pitied. I notice too that those who admit they feel free to call us retarded don't have the courage to sign their name to their comments. My name is Reid and my sister's name is Claudia and we wish you happiness and light.

    ReplyDelete
  96. I just wanted to let you know, I think your video has totally gone viral! I swear I saw it on a national morning news show...and just now I saw that our local Board of Developmental Disabilities and their sister company, Focus on Abilities have posted it on their facebook pages.I can only imagine how many people will be impacted by it now!

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  97. Well calling someone mentally challenged a retard is terrible. but otherwise it is not a problem. if you ban this people will just start calling others mental, stupid, etc. so if you are gonna ban this, then you need to ban these words:
    f***
    s***
    a**
    dumb
    moron
    idiot
    white
    black
    jew
    yellow
    bitch
    and the list goes on. BTW this movement is RETARDED. so just leave it alone.

    ReplyDelete
  98. Also if you ban a word, you are limiting the citizens of Americas right to speech. So you would rather limit everybody, when this is supposed to be a FREE country, just because a word hurts a little. Nice. people just use it as slang for stupid, moron and other words. its ok to be offended when someone calls your son that, but otherwise just please leave it alone. If you don't your son is not a retard, you are and so is this whole damn movement.
    P.S. if you ban a word or dissuade people from using it will get used more. just look at cuss words. i will say what words i want.
    -retard
    -retards
    -retarded
    -retardation

    ReplyDelete
  99. Would I call your son a retard to his face - never, because I have never been the type of person to insult others. BUT...using the term Mental Retardation is very different. To ask the entire medical community along with the entire government to stop using a legitimate medical term is insane. How many other medical terms have been used over the years to describe RETARDED because you people decided it had become an insult. Mong, moron, imbecile, idiot are just a few. You can change the name but the condition is still the same and the new name will just be used as an insult too.

    The problem lies in the general population. You freely admit that YOU used the word RETARDED as an insult until you had a special needs child. Once it affected YOU directly, you decided the word is offensive. Without doubt, there are words which you use on a daily basis which offend SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE but those don't matter because they do not directly affect YOU.

    Your time, along with everyone else on here bitching about a WORD, would be better spent campaigning to stop bullying and helping to teach people to be kinder to others like society was in previous decades.

    It is truly sad that the people who are screaming the loudest about how offensive this word is are the people who used it the most as an insult. You are also the people who either bullied others in school or stood by and did nothing while your friends bullied others. Now, when it happens to you, the world has stopped turning because your little feelings are hurt. Those of us who had to deal with being teased and tormented in school for being different and never used words like RETARDED as insults are laughing at you all now because the shit hit the fan and blew back all over you guys finally.

    Your mission is destined to fail because even if you change the word, you will never change the condition your kid suffers from and you will never change your guilt at giving your kid the genes that caused the condition. You can change the word but the new word will become an insult just as it has repeatedly over the last 5 decades UNLESS you work to stop bullying in general.

    ReplyDelete
  100. Great comments here (well, mostly). It's clear that this is a word that's hurtful to many people, both people with disabilities and those who love them.

    Ignorance and insensitivity are two major disabilities. Unfortunately, there's no therapy for that, and I pity some of the commenters here. If you know that a word is offensive and yet you continue to use it, there's something wrong with you. Period.

    In October 2010, Congress (look that up if you're not sure what it is), passed Rosa's Law, wiping out the words "mentally retarded" from federal law.

    ReplyDelete
  101. I agree that it's not always ignorance on the part of the offenders, many times like a couple of posters here, it's being obstinate. The typical "it's all about me, who cares about you". It's a real shame. Not to try and push my documentary on anybody, but the part 2 is perhaps the most important 9 minutes anyone will see in a long time. The amazing transformation that the eight young adult interviewees have is a must see. It's as if they have this epiphany right before your eyes. These are the same people that admitted they said "retard" in part 1. They all realize how and why they were wrong to use say it. They realized it on their own. That's very important. Thanks, Jeff

    ReplyDelete
  102. I LOVE the hypocrites on here!

    "I pity those who are stupid/dumb/ignorant because they use the word retard/ed!"

    (this one is hilarious because stupid and ignorant were both previous medical terms for mentally retarded so YOU are calling people retarded while bitching about the use of the word retarded. Dumb is insulting to those who suffer from Aphasia so you are insulting another disability while you are preaching about having compassion for the mentally retarded)

    "We CHRISTIANS just have to pity those who are too ignorant to see"

    (this should be self-explainatory for you Good Christian Bitches. It will give you something to whine about from the front row next Sunday. Don't forget the tylenol for your Saturday night hangover and your morning after pill from your one-night stand.)

    "Even CONGRESS says don't use MENTALLY RETARDED"

    (Yep, because you can NEVER find a politician willing to take up whatever cause will get them a bit of exposure during an election year and possibly garner a view votes for themselves so WELL DONE on jumping THAT hurdle LOL)

    "I NEVER use the word retarded because it is an insult but I routinely use moron, idiot, imbecile, dumbass, whore, bastard, bitch, cow, heifer, airhead, bimbo, dope, dork, freak, geek, nerd, pyscho, fatass, cripple, lame......"

    (this is hilarious because you find nothing wrong with offending
    anyone else because you can proudly say you don't use the word retarded)

    You want special needs people to be treated differently when it comes to getting medical bills paid or drawing a GOVERNMENT CHECK each month. You want to be treated differently when someone hurts your feelings and you can use being special needs to your advantage. You want to be treated differently as long as it benefits you. However, at the same time you are demanding that special needs people NOT be treated any differently. You want them integrated into society and given jobs then threaten to sue whenever your kid isn't hired to sweep floors. Doesn't matter that the job went to a 40 year old average Joe who was downsized and needs to pay his mortgage AND pay his taxes so your kid can draw his check every month because it was just discrimination against disabled... i mean...handicapped.... i mean whatever the most current term is that is politically correct so I don't offend someone who wants to be considered NORMAL while they get all sorts of government handouts for being DIFFERENT.

    You want the word RETARDED banned from the English language because it directly affects you but you have no problems using hundreds of other words that offend those around you. Hyppocrites at their best.

    ReplyDelete
  103. I just finding it amazing with the endless number of websites and blogs to post on the internet, you choose to waste your time spewing hate here. Did you get kicked off those websites where they hate everyone because you make no sense and keep repeating yourself? You must be a miserable little person in your life, that you want to spread hurt by words on Ellen's awesome blog. You're welcome to address me directly tough guy, because your racist hate doesn't hunt with me. Jeff

    ReplyDelete
  104. DIRECTLY TO JEFF

    You appear to be one of those good christians who can't handle the truth and only want to hear support for YOUR way.

    YOU made your child the way he is. YOU gave your child the condition he has. YOU should go take care of him and not expect the world to bow down to you because of your guilt. You expect the rest of the world to not only financially take care of your mess but now you wish to limit what others say because you feel guilty about creating a mentally retarded drain upon society.

    What other words personally offend you there little guy? Let's make sure we eliminate EVERY word that offends YOU because the world revolves around you.

    I will make it a point to now speak to every special needs parent that I see. I will tell them that I have read about this campaign and witnessed how "compassionate" and "loving" and "caring" you all are (insert HUGE LAUGH here). Since you wish to restrict MY usage of a word YOU find offense I will now use the word RETARDED every single day.

    Now I'm off to kick a few puppies and steal candy from retards.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As a disabled person, I half agree with you.

      I don't think we should ban terms used to describe an affliction, pretending there's nothing "wrong" with having an ailment. Calling someone with mental retardation "special" creates shame, while at the same time fails to give them the assistance they need.

      However, your understanding of the welfare state is not only barbaric, but backwards. Clearly, economics and political philosophy are not your strong suit.

      I'm not retarded; I'm crazy. YOU expect me to REFRAIN from taking what I need to subsist, while the justification for YOUR economy is "pragmatism" (or legal positivism, if you're pedantic).

      There's nothing pragmatic about the economy for me, as an individual. Meanwhile, YOUR economy has no moral value. In legal terms, it's "Mala Prohibita", not "Mala In Se".

      So, if I can't subsist because of an affliction, why should I obey your rules?

      You want to engage in acute specialization, doing the same set of monotonous tasks over, and over, and over again so you can accumulate toys from the Apple store. Good for you. If that means I can't eat, and (keep this in mind) I'm CRAZY, how safe are you?

      Not very. That's why you need a welfare state: So I refrain from taking what you have from you. Handouts are irrelevant.

      Delete
  105. You're probably some fat slob sweating and hiding behind your computer. Wearing a wife beater t-shirt that's got food stains all over it. Go kick some puppies, and go call some people "retards". You're a tough guy. Hopefully you'll do it when I'm around. I'm not Christian, but you're full of hate. So other then being a whack job, you need to go take your meds. Please leave this board. You have to know that no one here likes you. Like I said. There are plenty of hate websites that you can get off on.

    ReplyDelete
  106. A mutual friend Erin, told me about your post. I wrote about it today. I hate that word and anyone that uses it to demean anyone or anything. You wrote a great piece.

    ReplyDelete
  107. To the person that wrote this comment below. I would bet my house that you wouldnt dare say something like this to a parents face. A waste of time. let me tell you jackass that when it comes to our kids NOTHING is a waste of time. I would love to be present when you had the nerve to try and say your exact comment to someones faces who has to live life dealing with people like you.


    Anonymous said...
    This seems like a waste of time and energy to worry about a word. There are far greater things in the world to worry about, its too bad you are so easily offended by something so trivial.

    Kids get picked on no matter what, teaching them to have self esteem and loving them as they are is more important than this failed effort that is not going to amount to anything.

    Best of luck to you and yours.

    ReplyDelete
  108. ANother one. Man you cowards hide behind your anonymous and leave your insane comments. Its just a word. So is the N word, so is F word, slang for Gay, and yet you probably have no issue with those either. Grow up. Just because a word is hurtful and people will continue to use it, doesnt mean that kids, adults, parents, anyone has to be ok with it.


    Anonymous said...
    Retarded is just a word. If you choose to let it hurt you, then guess what? It will. I understand that as a mom, you would do anything to protect your son, but the fact of the matter is some ignorant (another offense word...OH LETS BAN IT) person will, at some point, call your son retarded or worse. It would serve your son better to prepare him for this and explain to him the lack of understanding behind such acts

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  109. Im sorry for using her comment section on her wonderful blog post to call our these cowards. You know its always the weak cowards that hide behind an anon tag. Have the strength to write your opinion in person. I cant stand those that come on here and talk shit about her blog and her post and her life that she is writing about on her time and of her own free will and you sorry losers are going to try and kick bricks out of her foundation by leaving nasty comments without a name by it. My exact point being that you cant list your name and own your comments, you wouldnt ever say this stuff to her face.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm disabled, and face enough discrimination as it is... my name is Bryan.

      Euphemisms won't help me. They imply shame and remove the emotional content of language. Meanwhile, Google the Euphemism Treadmill regarding the word "retarded". Banning language is irrational.

      Delete
  110. Donna in Little Rock, ARMarch 31, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    Dear thisdaddy, ellen, jeff, and all others on here who are complaining about anonymous posters:

    I will try once again to post this because ellen seems determined to not allow a post that contains common sense.

    My name is Donna and I live in Little Rock AR. I will happily meet any of you and tell you to your face exactly what I feel about your attempts to ban the word retard.

    I am disabled. My son is disabled. My husband is disabled. We helped care for 2 disabled cousins for the last 30 years instead of hiring outside nurses because we take care of our own and don't expect anyone to make changes for us. We deal with mental, physical, and emotional disabilities every day and we do it a normally as possible without trying to force people into treating us differently.

    One cousin had Down's with an IQ of 58. We treated him exactly the same as every other kid in the family and neighborhood when we were growing up. His mommy didn't mollycoddle him. He kept up or else he didn't get to play. We didn't show him special attention or treat him with kidgloves. Because of this, he was able to get a job at a manufacturing company with his father where he ran a machine for 27 years. He never missed a day of work and he retired with a pension. Never collected a single dime of government funds and never demanded anyone change anything for him. My other cousin fell out of a highchair at a few months' old. He was normal one moment and the next he had something similiar to shaken baby syndrome due to the blow to his head from the floor. His IQ was 69 so he was considered "high functioning" an should've been able to integrate into society well enough. Unfortunately, his mommy wanted him treated like a fragile egg that would break if everyone wasn't on tiptoe around him. We ended up with a 6'4" toddler who refused to even sit on a toilet let alone wipe his own ass. He had to be fed every meal like an infant. He refused to dress himself. He refused to speak coherently (he was capable) because his mother expected everyone to treat him "special". By treating him "special", that is exactly what he became. My aunt felt so much guilt for his condition that she demanded everyone around them to change to suit what she thought was best and it ruined him. My cousin with Down's was allowed to fall off slides and scrape his knees, and yes (shock, awe, gasp) he was even allowed to be called retarded on the playground. He learned that everyone was teased about something. Everyone is too short/too tall/too fat/too skinny/too smart/not smart enough/too nerdy/too gangly/too clumsy. He learned that part of life is having to deal with adversity and it made him into a better person. My other cousin was a big pile of neediness who never reached his potential.

    I am disabled. My son is disabled. My husband is disabled. We hear all sorts of comments but you know what? WHO CARES. We do not expect ANYONE to treat us different. We want to be included into society like everyone else and part of that is hearing things that might offend us. If we were worried about words like retard then we would go live in a bubble so that no one hurt our little feelings because we are 'special' and deserve 'special' treatment.
    Today's society is full of entitlement. Parents who believe that because thier child has "special needs" the entire world must change to make them happy but it is not the worlds' responsibility to cater to your child. As a parent, it is YOUR responsibility to teach your child how to reach his potential and how to deal with diversity.

    Retard is a word. Are you going to ban every single word in the world that offends all disabled people or only the one that offends you now?

    ReplyDelete
  111. Ok, so now I'm crying. Beautiful, poignant and thought provoking. Sharing...

    ReplyDelete
  112. Donna, I feel bad about your family disabilities. But calling people derogatory and demeaning names doesn't make them a stronger person. If people want to treat their Special Needs child like a wounded bird, that's their business. Our Special Needs child is treated just like her sisters. It's not right to call African American people the "N" word, Gays the "F' word or Jews the "K" word. It doesn't make the world a better place. If you want to be mean and beat down your family by calling them a bunch of "retards", that's your business. It won't make them stronger, it will only make them withdraw and have less confidence. Every person on this blog has a Special Needs child, sibling, relative or friend. You're the only one that can't see how hurtful using the word "retard" is. You should watch my documentary. The interviewees are just like you in the first part, and realize on their own how wrong they are in the second part. I hope you get it together Donna. You're making the world a tougher place for people to get along and enjoy their lives, not better. Jeff

    ReplyDelete
  113. Before someone says that i'm being a coward by not giving a name, My name is Gabe M and I live in Houston,Texas.

    You people are insane. Just because you kid is born differant DOES NOT mean it is entited to special rights. Also, the world IS NOT out to get them and NOT EVERYONE hates them. I will say what I want because I am protected by the 1st ammendement. At school last week(i'm 13 and in 8th grade)my freinds and I were walking out of the lunchroom when we heard something down the hall. It was a kid with downs syndrome(who was about 15 or so) beating a 6 year old up(my school is Prek-12th grade). Tell me how that was justified. You are wasting time by doing this. There are 7 billion people on earth and counting and getting everyone to stop is immposible. Let me advise that there's a sterotype of people like you of wanting to ban every word that hurts someones litte feelings. Now, would I say retard to your kid? No, as long as he can funcution in socity I have no problem with him

    ReplyDelete
  114. Donna in Little Rock, ARApril 4, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    Dearest jeff, (part 1)

    I am attempting yet again to reply to you - hopefully ellen will allow this response thru.

    Why do you "feel bad" about my family disabilities? We don't! There is absolutely nothing to "feel bad" about. It is merely the way life is for us and everyone deals with something in their life. The only reason I even mentioned it was because undoubtedly someone would say "you only feel that way because you've never dealt with XXX" which is completely false. We live with every adversity you can think of so our families' POV is due to firsthand knowledge.

    I am saddened that you've twisted my words in a pathetic attempt to try to prove your point. It is beyond childish and you should be ashamed of yourself! At NO TIME have I EVER said "calling people derogatory and demeaning names make them stronger people".

    WHAT I SAID IS THIS: By allowing each of us to deal with the SAME ADVERSITY as the "regular kids" (for example the school bully who teases about being retarded/ wearing glasses or hearing aids/ being a bookworm/ being too tall or whatever) we all learned at a young age that everyone is different. That everyone is offended by different things. That everyone has to deal with SOMETHING. And = most importantly = that words have no power over you unless you allow them to. They are merely words. YOU decide what you are worth - not a bunch of strangers.

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  115. Donna in Little Rock, ARApril 4, 2012 at 4:58 PM

    Dearest jeff, Part 2

    As for people treating their SN kid like a wounded bird, you are correct that is their business. HOWEVER, if you, as a SN parent, cannot treat your child without prejudice then do NOT expect society to do so. If you want them treated like a wounded bird then that's exactly how everyone will treat them but this also reflects on other SN kids and how they are treated too. If one SN kid is expected to be treated 'special' and another to be treated normally, how is society supposed to know which kid is to be treated which way? The confusion on HOW to treat those with disabilities is legitimate because everyone is different and everyone is offended by different things.

    Regarding the "N/F/K" words: My goddaughter is black and she uses the word nigger. A very dear friend of mine is homosexual (he's actual offended by the word Gay, as are many homosexuals yet you are using it freely lol) and he uses the word fag. They understand that they are merely words and have no issue with them.

    As for "If you want to be mean and beat down your family by calling them a bunch of retards, that's my business" - WTF?!?! Where did you get this from?! I could just as easily say "Well, Jeff, you're a jerk who beats his SN daugther and tells her she's worthless, and that's your business" - but that would have no more bearing on this discussion than YOUR idiotic statement. Your attempts to twist my words to make your point are downright laughable and show how you will do anything to make yourself appear correct and me to appear wrong. Yep, you are quite the big man there jeffiepoo, quite the man.

    As for what makes me and my family stronger, you have absolutely NO IDEA because you do not know us, so how can you say "it will only make them withdraw and have less confidence"? Your family must be sad, timid, pathetic people walking around with chips on your politically correct shoulders worrying so much about what everyone else thinks. What a shame because you are missing out on LIFE and all the wonderful things it holds.

    As for "I'm the only one that can't see how hurtful the word retarded is" : The majority of society feels the way I do.

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  116. Donna in Little Rock, ARApril 4, 2012 at 4:58 PM

    Part 3:


    Why is it always those who are related to a disabled or SN person that have the biggest chips on their shoulders? Those of us who actually HAVE the "needs" are usually pretty laid back because in the grand scheme of things, we have too much other stuff to do than worry about what other people think. Maybe you should take up a hobby like golfing or tennis then you wouldn't have so much time to worry about words.

    Your documentary: WHY are you pimping this thing so hard?! Is it the only way people will watch it? I am NOT going to watch your silly little homemade video. If I want to know how someone with any form of mental retardation or "intellectual disability" feels about the word RETARD then I will go straight to them and ask them. I know plenty and so far they've all gotten a good laugh at how people like you, ellen, and thisdaddy are sooo upset about a word and are sooo offended by anyone who feels differently than you.

    We actually enjoy the fact that people are not guarded around us. We enjoy that people don't censor their words around us. We enjoy that people do not see us as any different from any of their other friends and so they don't treat us any differently. You, ellen, and thisdaddy obviously get off on people saying "aaawww, you poor thing" and that's fine. If that is what you need to make yourself feel good then fine but do NOT try to belittle me or mine for BEING OK WITH WHO WE ARE AND THE DISABILITIES WE LIVE WITH.

    I really hope YOU get it together, jeffiepoo, because you will find life is a helluva lot more fun without that boulder on your shoulder weighing you down.

    oh, and one last thing to all you lovely people on here: You all claim how being a parent to a SN kid has made you soooo compassionate, understanding, and forgiving, yet every single time someone posts with a different POV, each and every one of you attack with claws out, on a mission to destroy. Perhaps you should all learn the definition of compassion, understanding, and forgiveness, then you would realize that you all have none. If you did, you wouldn't treat those who feel differently with such venom.

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  117. I'm out on this blog. You win Donna or whatever your name is. You make no sense, you rant, you're mean and irrational. Everyone can see it but you. You're too unyielding. People like you will never change or get it. You're a born pathetic loser, and you make everyone that comes in contact with you, feel like getting away from you. I'm sure with your attitude in life you're not well liked. I don't believe that you even have a Special Needs person in your family. You really should go "troll" some hate website where you're better suited with your own kind. Jeff and outta here due to "Donna" the guy behind his computer.

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  118. Donna in Little Rock, ARApril 5, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    You are abusing a disabled woman and there are laws to protect me, jeff. Believe me, I have no issues with using those laws to my benefit - it's one of the perks of being disabled (and there are few to choose from lol)

    I was diagnosed with Aspergers 17 years ago which is why you see me as "too unyielding, a born pathetic loser, and not well liked".

    What a shame that you, someone who claims to be a "SN Dad" cannot accept people for who they are. I pity your daughter for having to deal with you - you must truly embarrass her.

    I, personally, am VERY offended by the fact that ellen - the creator of this blog - stated that she actually told her doctors I DON'T WANT A HANDICAPPED CHILD after Max was born. I was 18 when my son was born and my husband was on the road 9 months out of the first year for work so I was raising my son basically alone. We spent the first 7 weeks in NICU, had our 1st (of 19) surgeries at the tender age of 3 weeks, and all the relentless crap that followed until he turned 19. This is on top of dealing with my OWN disabilities which are both physical and mental.

    Thru all of this - NOT ONCE did I EVER say - I don't want my kid because he's not perfect - yet here you are calling ME a "born pathetic loser" and so on while you praise ellen. Why is that? Because you didn't take the time to get to know me and couldn't accept that I see the world differently from you.

    I could say nasty things about you
    but you obviously have deepseated emotional issues tied with your family situation. Work thru them jeff, you'll be a better person for doing so.

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  119. I'm not saying retarded is a bad word. IT'S NOT A BAD WORD. I'd say it's between ugly and good though.

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  120. To start, my older sister(whom I love DEARLY) has Down syndrome, my mom and oldest sister are SpEd teachers and I am an SLP. I have grown up in the special needs world and kids with special needs are my passion! With that being said, the word retard simply means "slow". (fire retardant...) We have let society turn this word into something that it is not by pairing it with our kids. If we all know how bright and funny our kids are, shouldn't that make the word retard a positive word? ... Yes, I know... it's the context that people are using it, but then we have to get rid of every negative word/name there is, from poopie head to the b word. We need to stop letting society define our kids with words. Take back the word retard and use it, as long as you can use it with the correct definition to describe things and not define people.

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  121. Donna,

    Rest assured that there are no laws that protect you when people say things you don't like on the internet, disabled or no.

    You acknowledge that you have Asperger's (a "mild form", by your own description), which is partially defined as significant difficulty in social interaction. You say you've never asked for any accommodation. Yet, here you are, displaying a significant lack of empathy in a variety of areas and demanding that people acknowledge your point as a valid one. You have the right to call people "retarded", make threats you can't back up, and spew vitriol at people you've never met. And other people have the right to conclude that you are a judgmental, uncaring, narrow-minded person.

    Most importantly, you claim you are the parent of a special needs child. If you are, and you say you've never wished your child didn't have a disability, you are LYING. All of us wish our children didn't have to struggle, no matter how big or little those struggles are. Maybe the struggles are ultimately character building, but we all have a deep desire to make the lives of those we love as easy as possible.

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  122. Ellen for president YOU ROCK Barack Obama got nothing on a determined mother :). I will tweet, Facebook and blog this video for Max, Malachi and every other kid out there who is different :)

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  123. Retard means "slower". Some people ARE slower. Also, as a special ed teacher in this state I am required to use the term "mentally retarded" as a legal classification for IEP standards..

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  124. Let me tell you MY story (sounds a bit conceited but I think you may understand and perhaps it will teach others a lesson). I used to one of those ignorant people who threw the words 'retard' or 'retarded' around like it was nothing. It never bothered anybody around me, so I didn't think it was a big deal. Despite the fact that my best friends little brother was "special needs" it never bothered me. She used it, I used it, everyone used it. As I got older, I realized that the words 'retard' and 'retarded' are insanely offensive and I took a vow to cut them out of my life completly. And I did. I will never use the words 'retard' or 'retarded' again, not even if doctors want to use it to define some type of illness. It is now on my list of words that I hate and will never say or allow somebody else to say (along with the C word, the N word and many other words that are just plain rude). I wish people would pull their heads of their asses and realize that just because other people use it or nobody around you gets offended by it doesn't mean it's okay like I did. Bless your son, he looks like a keeper!

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  125. One of my friends has Down's syndrome. Several have autism one has Rett syndrome All others are neurotypical. I never use that word, because it hurts my friends. It hurts my family. It hurts me. I have autism. Max is a good and productive person. I love him.

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  126. I take that word personally. A lot of disabled people like my friends deserve respect. I have autism. I am a duck, not a defective pigeon.

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  127. Max is cuter than a bearded dragon.

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  128. Not re****ed. Resmarted.

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  129. Max likes purple. Anna likes red.
    Max eats sweet potatoes. Anna eats pasta.
    Max is 4. Anna is 12.
    We are both different not defective.

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  130. I don't know. We have become so Politically Correct. In any case, I could not bring myself to embrace political correctness, because it seems to encourage people to think the worst of others. That’s just a little too intolerant, even for me.
    I would never call a disabled person or my Aunt who has CP a retard because the word HAS morphed into slang. Perhaps because of this we should end the use of Retard as a description for mentally challenged, etc. It may be an easier battle and good people who use slang would not be demonized.

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  131. If you would not call God a retard, do not use the word!!!!! If you would, say it to my face. I would most likely pwn you!!!!!

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  132. I have said to to my self i don't say it out loud to no one and I Know what it is Like To be called a retard Cause I have M.M.R Mildly Mentally Retarded i was born dead Literally and YES I KNOW SPECIAL NEEDS KIDS DO GET TEASED AND TREATED DIFFERENTLY BUT I AM A NORMAL WOMEN AND I HAVE LIVED UP TO MY POTENTIAL SO ANYONE THAT IS IGNORANCE CAN JUST SHUT THERE MOUTH YOU DON'T KNOW THE STRUGGLES YOUNG KIDS HAVE TO ENDURE EVERYDAY ... AND THAT IS HOW ALL THE BULLING IN SCHOOL'S START Some people don't know the struggles a Child that IS SPECIAL And the struggle on the path to there potential they are just to quick to put judgment of kids that are unique and sweetest people in the world

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  133. I teach special ed C.I. kids in the city of Detroit. It is horrible how many adults use that word as "slang". Everytime I hear kids playing around and calling a kid Retard I feel so much pain inside me. Pain that I hope my students didn't hear that being said. Unfortunately they have heard it to much. I am like a one man show trying to stop these kids from using that word plus other inappropriate language. Stopping it has to come from the home ,educating the adults of the home first.

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  134. First of all, stop this r-word nonsense! The word in and of its own is not offensive, it's the way people use it. I have a friend who uses "special" in the same way, as in "Why did you do that? Are you "special" or something?". Should we ban "special" as well? It could be "beautiful" or "unique" - the way it's used can distort a word. I mean, look of the history of the word "gay"...

    Personally, I haven't used "retarded" for years. I stopped using it when I stopped using insults in general, when I realized that insulting people is not only hurtful, but also not productive - calm rational conversations get better results. Also, negations of positives ("That wasn't very smart" instead of "That was stupid") are less hurtful and more constructive.

    The thing is, in my opinion, insults only hurt when they hit home - when we feel they're true to some extent. I am a little overweight, but if someone calls me fat, even in the most insulting manner, I can laugh it off because I am happy with my body the way it is. On the other hand, for years my older sister could make me cry by calling me brain damaged - I had fractured my skull in a car accident when I was five and even though there was no lasting damage, it hit home very hard.

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  135. I'm 12 and this is awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  136. while i do think we should stop using retard as an insult i don't think it should be removed all together..there are many uses for retard like with circuits or music and all sorts of things really while at the same time being a legit clinical term

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  137. People who are bothered by the words of others clearly have no happiness in their lives so they are blaming others for their pain.

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  138. What a gorgeous boy you have.

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  139. To those who do not 'get it' can you not simply respect the fact that many people find the word 'retarded' offensive and stop using it? Why all the hate?

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    1. I find religion offensive. Are you obligated to refrain from worship because it offends me? Or is my subjective taste in being offended of no moral worth?

      People offended by the word "retard" fail to acknowledge that mental retardation is an affliction.

      Parents can't contend with the fact that their children have a weakness, so they resort to euphemisms. Their kid isn't sick, they're "special". Down Syndrome isn't an ailment, their kid is just "different".

      The symptomology would suggest otherwise. Failing to acknowledge that Down Syndrome and Autism is a serious ailment means that your kid will be expected to assimilate. This is why delusional parents attempt to place their kids into regular schools and jobs where they can't function, aren't happy and fail to obtain the necessary care and comradery they need.

      There's nothing wrong with the phrase mental retardation. The problem is that people confuse solemnity with respect. There's nothing respectful about euphemisms.. They're indicative of shame.

      If I tell an anorexic person, "You need to eat something. You look like you have cancer" I'm not belittling those with cancer. Likewise, if I respond to a stupid comment by saying it's "retarded", I'm not perpetuating false stereotypes about the mentally retarded; low IQ is a primary symptom of mental retardation. It's a defining characteristic of the affliction.

      You can joke about something, and still take it seriously. Meanwhile, the inability to face reality regarding the affliction will harm the mentally retarded far more than mere words. Perception is more important.

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  140. Blast it all! You made me cry. Thank you.

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  141. Max inspires me. Calling him slow won't help.

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  142. The terms used for this condition are subject to a process called the euphemism treadmill. This means that whatever term is chosen for this condition, it eventually becomes perceived as an insult. The terms mental retardation and mentally retarded were invented in the middle of the 20th century to replace the previous set of terms, (idiot, imbecile, moron), which were deemed to have become offensive. By the end of the 20th century, these terms themselves have come to be widely seen as disparaging and politically incorrect and in need of replacement. The term intellectual disability or intellectually challenged is now preferred by most advocates in most English-speaking countries.

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  143. I have showed this video to 160 high school freshman in the last 2 semesters, and I remind them to think of Max. Thanks for the inspiring and thought provoking post.

    A. Major, Foley High School, Foley, Alabama

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  144. I am an adult with cerebral palsy and I am a special education teacher. I was called the r-word in middle school and people would mock the way I sometimes draw up my hands. I am not sure why this was particularly amusing. Thank you for the campaign to end the r-word. It is an unneccesary word.

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  145. I have Tourettes Syndrome and a boy once called me The r word. It hurt my feeling so much. When i see Max, All i see is a young boy with a bright future and he is so CUTE! Best wishes to you and Max! :)

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  146. Leave if you are going to be a troll. I am autistic and 12. I see a miracle when I see Max.

    If you want to use the r word, let me say this:Go ahead, but prepare for a tongue-lashing from special needs moms.

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  147. I'm autistic and I call myself retarded all the time. Get over it and stop shoving your retarded kids and your PC agenda in our faces.

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    1. This wonderful lady has the right to express her feelings.

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  148. Why dont you All get a life.This politicly correct bullcrapp is for the birds!! You people should stop felling Sorry for yourselves Life is to short go and Enjoy it......

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  149. how can you expect them to be treated equal when they ARENT treated equal. Im a high school student and everyday i have maybe one or two special needs kids in my class. They have people paid just to sit there and help them if they need help, nobody does that for me. no one pays someone to stand there and give me the answer, during tests they go out of the room into a seperate testing center, where they basically give them the answers, if you want to make someone equal, stop seeing them as retards and just see them as normal people.

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    1. You may be right that there is a fine line between noticing/defining differences and pointing out the differences in a negative way, but this is definitely not negative.

      There is a difference between being treated equal and being treated the exact same way. I know this is taking it to it's simplest form, but I cannot see without my contacts/glasses so if I had to be the same as everyone else and not allowed to wear them I wouldn't be able to function very well in school (or the rest of the world), but that doesn't mean wearing them gives me a special advantage. These kids in your class are not being given the answers to the test, their aide may be helping them read through the question or fill in the answer the student gives them, but these students are not being given an unfair advantage...if you needed help like that you would get it too.

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  150. Wow.. Reading the comments made by people above (the ones that were against stopping the r-word) angered me. I can't believe people are so heartless...

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  151. I have been reading your blog all morning and loving it. I've worked with adults and children with special needs for many years, although I am currently in the middle of a 2yr "break" as I become an RN. When I was in HS I met one of my best friends who had a brother with a handicap, they are the ones who first opened my eyes to the real impact words can have. As I worked in a residential setting people often said 'I'm not making fun of the people you work with, I'm making fun of (whoever)' and my normal response was, 'no, that person is stupid and by saying they are retarded you are saying the people I work with are stupid.' So while I love your video on so many levels I especially love that you touch on that same idea. Thank you so much for this!!

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  152. Am I the only parent of a special needs child that does not find the word retarded offensive??? I don't know maybe I watch too much southpark .. I am all for advocacy and being involved in the rights of people with disabilities i try to get involved as much as possible but I just can't jump on the don't say the r word train.

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    1. You're not alone. My son is RETARDED. :) If you look up the definition of the word, the meaning does fit the diagnosis. I don't like the word "retard", or the word being used as slang or as an insult, but as a diagnosis, it is legitimate. Just like I don't care if someone calls me black, African-American, negro, colored, etc. It's the heart that matters, not the word. It's a lot easier for me to say my son is retarded, than to figure out what the current politically correct terminology is. Don't get me wrong, if someone called my son the n-word, or a retard in a mean way, I would get all momma-bear on their behinds. If someone asked me if my son is retarded, I'd simply say, "yes". If I judge them for using the "wrong" word, I am worse than those who innocently aren't up-to-date on the so-called "correct" terminology.

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  153. Retard, retarded and dumb are all unclean words and strongly hurtful insulting words. Physically challenged is a better used set of words over the three I mentioned.

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Thanks for sharing!