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I’m Not Ranting But Please Stop Using That Word!

Jodi Shenal by Jodi Shenal Additional Needs

Jodi Shenal

Jodi Shenal

I'm a stay-at-home mom with two amazing children. My son is on the Autism spectrum and my daughter has a rare genetic disorder and multiple disabil...

I know many people feel like they’ve been bombarded with blog posts and articles online criticizing them for using the, “R Word.”

They feel that parents of children with disabilities are “too sensitive.”

This post isn’t one to belittle or chastise those in our lives that have used this word in our presence, or those that think we are hypersensitive.

It is rather an attempt to urge people to simply STOP using that word; to banish it from vocabulary altogether.

This is a post to educate and to turn moments where you may have nonchalantly used that word into teachable moments.

When I was younger, I’m sure I used that word in a joking manner.  I’m sure I laughed at that word when it was used in movies or on television shows.

In fact, I know I did.

While I can’t go back in time and change my past mishaps, I can move forward and share with the world why it was wrong.

Whether you are joking with friends in conversation, or sharing posts on Facebook using the “R Word”, you are unknowingly hurting others.

You probably aren’t vengeful or filled with hate, but you are inflicting wounds.

The word in itself means “characterized by a slowness or limitation in intellectual understanding and awareness, emotional development, academic progress, etc.”

Another definition for it is “slang –stupid or foolish.”  When my daughter was an infant, she was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder, characterized by many traits.

One of those traits that forever stands out in my mind; one that I still remember staring harshly back at me from medical paperwork was “Moderate to severe Mental Retardation.”

From that moment on, I knew there was nothing funny, appropriate or acceptable about that word.

This word punched me in my gut and took away dreams and hopes that I had for my child, in an instant.

Although the reality can at times still be hard to swallow, the word has since been changed, thankfully, in medical literature to “having intellectual disabilities.”

Therefore, it shouldn’t be used anymore, ever, for any reason. Period.

When you call someone or something the “R Word”, you are saying they have intellectual disabilities.

My daughter is intellectually disabled, and I’m certain, beyond a shadow of a doubt, she wouldn’t find any humor in jokes at her expense, or at the expense of others.  Neither does her Momma.

She is also the most amazing, smart, strong and beautiful little girl I’ve ever known.

One of my proudest parental moments EVER was when her older brother was playing a video game online with friends and a child used that word.

He immediately called him out, shouting: “Dude! What did you say? That is NOT cool!”

If you do still use this harsh, hurtful, outdated word in your own vocabulary, or if you laugh with others that do, please understand why we ask you to stop.

Surely you don’t have someone in your life with disabilities.  Or, perhaps you do, but haven’t fully evolved to see the ache that the word creates.  I hope that you will.

I know that I am not alone in saying that parents of disabled children feel sickened, infuriated and heartbroken when people use that word in our presence.  And rightfully so.

We urge you to think twice before you say it…there’s no need for it.

We’d be very happy to never hear that word again.


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