March 31st is a very special day and the Special Olympics is challenging YOU to make a BIG change!!! Today has been designed Spread the Word to End the Word day - a national day of awareness to end the "R-word." The "R-word" I am taking about is retard(ed).
I am the first to admit, I never gave a whole lot of thought to the R-word (and related words) until my oldest child was born. Since birth, he has had a number of developmental delays and one of the greatest gifts I have gained from this experience is a heightened awareness and sensitivity to others. It all comes down to respect and dignity for others.
While many people do not think of the R-word as hateful speech, it is a word that does feel hurtful to the millions family members, friends and people of intellectual disabilities.
The R-word is no different than any other cruel word or slur and leaves a negative impact on all of society. Our family has been very blessed with the love and support of our family and friends, but I am constantly amazed by the stories I have heard from other moms I know who have experienced insensitivity from others. I have a friend whose special needs children recently had outbursts in a store. There she was, standing in the store with a full shopping cart, trying to make sure her other child did not take off while trying to calm her other child down. Moms like my friend have had people come up to them to ask them "what is wrong with your child" or have overheard another person say "why can't that mom control her child." There are so many stories like this and every time I hear one it just breaks my heart. Instead of judging others or saying hurtful things we should just be helping another mom out. Put yourself in her shoes for a minute, how would you feel? Because you don't know what is going on in that mom's life.
Today's Spread the Word to End the Word day of awareness has been created by young people with and without intellectual disabilities. These young people will be leading local efforts to not only raise awareness to the issue, but also collected pledges from people, including moms like you and me, vowing not to use the R-word.
I am encouraging you and those around you today to help eliminate this hateful word and initiate change to think before we speak.
Are you the parent of a child with special needs? Join our RP Mom in the Special Needs group in the momlogic community.