Wednesday, March 5, 2014

20 reasons to respect my child with special needs


Today's the sixth annual Spread the Word to End the Word Day, dedicated to raising awareness about an insulting word—and respect for people with intellectual disability. Started by the Special Olympics, the campaign is on the surface about why the word "retard" perpetuates negative stereotypes of people with ID but at heart, it's about consideration. 

r-word.org

These are reasons why kids like mine with special needs deserve your respect:

1. Because he is a kid. He may act differently, walk differently or think differently than most children do but at heart is a child like any other. He matters. He has worth. He has potential.

2. Because, really, it's so simple to give my child respect—and it's not about handling him with kid gloves. Talk to him, not over him. Look him in the eye. Presume he understands. See his abilities, not only his disabilities. Treat him as you would want your child to be treated. Accept, don't just tolerate.

3. Because no matter what a child's diagnosis—Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism—he has a lot of obstacles to overcome in this world, and your respect can help fuel his confidence.

4. Because I know it can be hard not to stare and sure, maybe my kid doesn't notice. But one of these days he will and it will only make him feel more alienated.

5. Because teaching your kids to accept and respect those with special needs will open their minds, expand their understanding of humanity and help them grow up to be Better People.

6. Because it's 2014, and it's time people with intellectual disability stopped being being treated as inferior human beings.

7. Because avoiding demeaning language is another way to respect people with intellectual disability. This isn't about curbing freedom of speech, political correctness, extreme uptightness or go find something else to worry about what's the big deal—it's about decency, consideration and, wait for it, respect. Would you call a person you love a loser? No? (I hope you said "no.") Well, when you jokingly use the words "retard," "retarded" or "'tard" as synonyms for loser, pathetic, clueless or stupid, you perpetuate the perception that children and adults with intellectual disability are pathetic clueless stupid losers. Basically, you slam an entire population...even if you don't mean to.

8. Because even if you don't have any kids with intellectual disability in your life, you can choose words that won't makes ones who have it look bad.

9. Because I look like this, and I SAID SO.


10. Because haters are gonna hate but the rest of us can respect.

1l. Because "To be one, to be united, is a great thing. But to respect the right to be different is even greater."—Bono

12. Because we parents of kids with special needs will do anything within our powers to help our children, whether it's getting them a ton of therapy, trying experimental treatments, working overtime to pay for it all—and asking for your respect.

13. Because you don't have to download the app, hit "click to buy" or get on a waiting list for Apple's next edition. Respect: always free, never gets old.

14.  Because it's so not cool to use that word. And people are publicly acknowledging it, as did New York Times Ethicist columnist Chuck Klosterman when Keri Wagner-Peck, mom to a boy with Down syndrome, called him on his repeated usage of it. His response: "It was immature, hurtful and thoughtless."

15. Because this:


16. Because don't just take it from me: Read what this Special Olympics athlete had to say about that word. And how it felt to one dad of a son with autism when their family was in a restaurant and he overheard a woman say, when the waiter asked how they were doing, "Except for the retard in the next booth ruining things by making noise, everything's fine."

17. Because our kids should be at that restaurant, on that plane flight, in that place of worship, or anywhere and everywhere in society. They may be struggling to keep it together, they may cause disturbances, but you need to respect their right to be there.

18. Because maybe you have no idea what it's like to love someone who is cognitively impaired, but if you did, you might have written this.

19. Because karma.

20. Because the fact that parents like me are making this plea tells you a little something about our concerns for our children's future. Please, help create a more inclusive, welcoming world for them.

More on this:

Do you get why this word hurts so much?

Would you call my child a retard?

If you ask people not to use the word retard

19 comments:

  1. once again great post spread the word to end the word!

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  2. Love this post - you are an amazing and gifted writer and an awesome mom!

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  3. Ellen...
    "Because he is a kid. He may act differently, walk differently or think differently than most children do but at heart is a child like any other. He matters. He has worth. He has potential.". Very good. Very, very, very good!! ;-D
    "Because, really, it's so simple to give my child respect—and it's not about handling him with kid gloves. Talk to him, not over him. Look him in the eye. Presume he understands. See his abilities, not only his disabilities. Treat him as you would want your child to be treated. Accept, don't just tolerate.". And I repeat. Very good. Very, very, very good!! ;)
    "Because I know it can be hard not to stare and sure, maybe my kid doesn't notice. But one of these days he will and it will only make him feel more alienated.". Do not stare at "special needs" individuals. Smile at them!! Twice last week, while I was out spending birthday money {Both times side-by-side to my Down syndrome brother, by the way!!} I saw groups of caretakers shopping with "special needs" young adults. Some were "talking". Others just quietly and awkwardly walking through isles. And I smiled. {Not sympathetically, lest anybody wonder.} In one store, I am certain that a young man with Down syndrome looked right at me!! So do not stare at "special needs" individuals. Smile at them!! It is so worth it!! ;-D
    "Because teaching your kids to accept and respect those with special needs will open their minds, expand their understanding of humanity and help them grow up to be Better People.". I am smiling so big at this!! ;)
    "Because it's 2014, and it's time people with intellectual disability stopped being treated as inferior human beings." Yes, yes, yes!! ;-D
    "Because avoiding demeaning language is another way to respect people with intellectual disability. This isn't about curbing freedom of speech, political correctness, extreme uptightness or go find something else to worry about what's the big deal—it's about decency, consideration and, wait for it, respect. Would you call a person you love a loser? No? (I hope you said 'no.') Well, when you jokingly use the words 'retard,' 'retarded' or ''tard' as synonyms for loser, pathetic, clueless or stupid, you perpetuate the perception that children and adults with intellectual disability are pathetic clueless stupid losers. Basically, you slam an entire population...even if you don't mean to.". Wow. BAM!! I think I love you!! ;)
    "Because haters are gonna hate but the rest of us can respect.". Valid point!! ;-D
    "Because you don't have to download the app, hit "click to buy" or get on a waiting list for Apple's next edition. Respect: always free, never gets old.". I like that!! ;)
    "Because our kids should be at that restaurant, on that plane flight, in that place of worship, or anywhere and everywhere in society. They may be struggling to keep it together, they may cause disturbances, but you need to respect their right to be there.". Did I mention that I love you?! ;-D
    "Because maybe you have no idea what it's like to love someone who is cognitively impaired, but if you did, you might have written this.". It certainly does change you, huh? ;)
    Sorry. Long comment!! ;-}
    --Raelyn


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  4. Love this! As a mom, I want my daughter with cognitive differences to have access to the same world my other children do. It's painful to see when she is treated differently. I wrote some of my thoughts on the R word here. http://joyfuljourneymom.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-r-word.html

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  5. Thank you so much for this post. Max has a really great mom! I have a lovely daughter 31 with Autism/ID. I made a decision to celebrate the Spread the Word to End the Word a little early this year. In late December 2013, while attending The Borgota Hotel's Comedy Club show, very offensive remarks were made by (2) comedians about persons with physical and intellectual disabilities. I decided walking out of the shows as I had done 5 times in the past 2 years was not making enough of a statement about how offensiveness it was. Sending emails to casino management about the comedians was not yielding the results I wanted. No one was gaining a greater awareness of the impact of the negative impact of the RWORD and other similar offensive slurs. I decided to utilize Social Media on 3-4 large sites, including the comedian's managers web site, as well as The Borgota's Facebook site to get the Casino's attention of the offensive material being said and how the responsibility ultimately rests with the casino, because it employs the comedians. I got a quick response, and to the Borgota's credit, they contacted the booking agent for the comedian and his manager and made it clear how offensive the material was, and what they expected in the future. I took the converation I had with Customer Relations via email as a chance to share with them about the RWORD campagin using a potion of sample material from the RWORD site. I thanked them for their response, noted the percent of the population with disabilities including (their customers, members of their community and state), sent information for Casino employees on Disability Etiquette, also included a document with respectful, more appropriate terminology to be used when speaking with an individual with a physical or intellectual disability and lastly included a link to The Arc of New Jersey. This is a small effort but hopefully for multiple reasons, The Borgota Casino will respect person's with disabilities in all the types of entertainment (places to Eat, gaming, concerts and shows) they offer.

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  6. i am appreciating the humor so much, through tears falling down!

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  7. I agree with all of the above. The muscle man picture cracked me up.

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  8. Wow... followed several links and landed on your blog. Totally wonderful... your writing is moving, eloquent and FIERCE!


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  9. Powerful post! I've received over 7,000 Facebook shares on the one I wrote about the "R" word:

    http://dreamingwithyourfeet.com/2014/03/03/the-r-word/

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  10. Wonderful post! Very well said.

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  11. I love this!! Thank you for posting this it is one of my favorite causes! I took the pledge, and I am proud to tell everyone!!

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  12. I forwarded this off to a dozen or so people from my inbox first thing Friday morning. Many of the responses spoke to the understanding that I hope exists in the general population as well. It would be sad to think that only our loved ones understand how wonderful our kids are!

    On a separate note, I missed your great video until tonight when a family member mentioned he loved it and was passing it along to others. For whatever reason your video in # 15 didn't come through on the email - it just showed a blank space, which I figured to be an unofficial "place your own reason here" kind of thing. Don't know if it's a glitch on your end, or if it just happened to me, though I'm ok with blaming my inbox and yahoo if you are!

    Thank you for a great and meaningful post, as always - Alyssa

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  13. Because my child has given me amazing gifts. They are extraordinary.

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  14. Because doesn't exist University on the world that teaches everything my son taught me in all my life, actually the real meaning of life.

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Thanks for sharing!



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