RETARD

Yes.  I am titling this blog entry with “THAT” word, because I need your attention please.

First, bear in  mind that I use that word to make you sit up and take notice about what I want to talk about.
I am not using that word to insult, degrade, belittle, compare, or humiliate.  You may read about that distinction of language usage HERE.

Second, I will give you one chance when you use that word to insult, degrade, belittle, compare, or humiliate.  Then I will politely, calmly, and privately pull you aside and explain to you why it is not a good word choice.

I give you that chance because I realize that we have  become numb to the words we use and we don’t always think of the further implications or origins. I get that language is living and evolves and grows and changes.

On Facebook yesterday I privately messaged one of my FB “friends” that his caption under his sisters picture was inappropriate and incredibly offensive as he stated she “Wasn’t as retarded as she looked”.   I gently explained as the mother of a severe special needs child, it was wrong.

His response was two fold:
1.  He was not insulting my child but poking fun at his sister.
2. The word has been in the OED since 1910.

oh.  I see.  So her making a funny face and being called retarded is ok.  Because yeah– my child never makes that face (uncontrollably, by the way) and you didn’t mean ANY offense to special needs kids ANYWhere……
except that you obviously used it to poke fun, insult, degrade, compare, and/or humiliate your sister (even in “good fun”)

Second, there are loooooooooooots of words in the OED.
171,476  words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words. To this may be added around 9,500 derivative words included as subentries. So just because it’s IN THE DICTIONARY, doesn’t mean that is a “good word” to use.
Hey!!
I tell you what– THIS WORD is in the dictionary too.
Wanna use THAT?

Of course you don’t.  Because it’s wrong and unacceptable.

That is the way we have to start thinking about the word I used in the title of this blog.

AND, if we are going by the standard of “oh hey, it’s in the dictionary….”
CHECK THIS OUT:
The Almighty Oxford English Dictionary FIRST defines it as a modifier:
Delay or hold back in terms of progress, development, or accomplishment:  his progress was retarded by his limp

Second?
as a noun:

INFORMAL OFFENSIVE

A mentally handicapped person (often used as a general term of abuse).
Oh hey.  CHECK THAT OUT!!
OED specifically stated that it is OFFENSIVE and a TERM OF ABUSE.
As this FB “friend” puffed himself up and tried to show me how “smart” he was I just said:
Barney? Goodbye
And blocked is ignorant ass.
So, lets save the word “retard” for its use solely as a transitive verb.
Oh, and if you are looking for words for describe my son– or other “special needs” persons?
Here are a few:
adaptable
adventurous
affable
affectionate
agreeable
ambitious
amiable
amicable
amusing
brave
bright
broad-minded
calm
careful
charming
communicative
compassionate
conscientious
considerate
convivial
courageous
courteous
creative
decisive
determined
diligent
diplomatic
discreet
dynamic
easygoing
emotional
energetic
enthusiastic
exuberant
fair-minded
faithful
fearless
forceful
frank
friendly
funny
generous
gentle
good
gregarious
hard-working
helpful
honest
humorous
imaginative
impartial
independent
intellectual
intelligent
intuitive
inventive
kind
loving
loyal
modest
neat
nice
optimistic
passionate
patient
persistent
pioneering
philosophical
placid
plucky
polite
powerful
practical
pro-active
quick-witted
quiet
rational
reliable
reserved
resourceful
romantic
self-confident
self-disciplined
sensible
sensitive
shy
sincere
sociable
straightforward
sympathetic
thoughtful
tidy
tough
unassuming
understanding
versatile
warmhearted
willing
witty
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Do YOU see the fan?

I took Jack to the grocery store the other day.
We were out of chips.

This was not Jack’s first foray out of the house that day , so he was a wee bit cranky.
And, this was not one of his usual grocery stops– this was a different store.
But what I could I do?
We needed a specific brand of chips.   Autism parents, YOU know what I am talking about.

So we get into the store and start shopping — IMMEDIATELY Jack is enthralled by the huge row of ceiling fans in the store.
He is mesmerized and I am hard pressed to navigate the store with Jack because wherever we go he HAS to see the fan.

We finally make our way to the check out and Jack is beside himself with happiness as he has a perfect view of THE FAN!
And so he starts laughing and shouting
“I see the Faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!”
He stims a little.
Laughs.
Rocks a little.
Shouts once again: “Faaaaaaaan! I see the Fan!”

I am smiling.  Laughing.  And going about my business of putting the chips on the conveyor belt.
That is when I notice her.

Her.  The woman behind us in line.
She is doing every thing she can NOT to acknowledge us.  She is painstakingly looking away. Down.  Up.  Everywhere except in our vicinity– which is hard , because we are RIGHT NEXT TO HER. It is apparent that this is not what she bargained for when she came in to get her bread and milk.

Now I get that not everyone is comfortable being around special needs children OR adults.
I was not expecting her to become my BFF while we bonded over Jackson shouting FAN in the grocery store.

I realize that Jack and I threw a monkey wrench into her grocery shopping experience.

Which is too bad.
Because she was missing out on a little bit of happiness .

Had she actually peeked over at us she would have saw paroxysms of pure delight.
She could have shared some of that delight if only for a few seconds

Instead she did everything in her power to NOT see it.
Sheer delight and pure happiness was right there next to her and she turned away.

I invite you all to cast off expectations in the moment, to open your eyes to the world outside your comfort zone.
You may just find a bit happiness of your own.

Also?
We WILL smile back you.  I promise.