Today I am posting about something so close and important to me, I am feeling very vulnerable. Today is March 6 - which is Spread the Word to End the Word day. If you don't know what this is please check out this website - it is incredible. http://r-word.org/
Today is about the eradication of the word "retard" or "retarded" being used for slang, being used a put down, as a synonym for any number of other derogatory words. But it is more - it is about accepting people with special needs as equals, as people of worth.
This day is extremely important to me as a teacher, a special education teacher, as a mom and as a human being. I have worked with many special needs children over the course of my career and have loved them all but none more than my own son, Grant.
On June 27, 2005, our world was forever changed. Due to deliver August 23rd, I knew things were not going to be easy, but I had no idea. We knew our pregnancy was risky - he had a 2 vessel cord, and we knew that his growth was restricted. Our precious Grant entered the world at 3 lbs. He was 14 inches long and the sweetest baby you have ever seen. Once he was here we learned that he had bled into his brain on both sides. We were told he might have cerebral palsy, he might never walk or talk, he might be deaf. After several weeks in the NICU, we were able to go home. Grant showed signs of cerebral palsy early on, but through intense therapy those symptoms ceased. He hit all his milestones in a very delayed way, but he met them. We were hopeful that he would just "catch up", as I am sure all parents of special needs are. But as he hit school age, things became more clear, Grant was not going to just catch up. After his first round of testing, we heard the "r" word for the first time used to describe our son. Devastating does not even begin to scratch the surface of how it felt.
But, the "r" word does not begin to scratch the surface of the child that Grant is. Grant is the funniest, sweetest, silliest kid. He is almost always happy. He has no ego issues, if he thinks he hurt you, he will cry. He loves without holding back. His smile lights up a room and he makes everyone who knows him love him. He is the best big brother to our daughter and the peskiest, cutest little brother to our big boys. He is our heart. He is an equal and important part of our family. There is nothing about him that should be equated with negativity. Look at my beautiful boy!
But he is indeed mentally retarded. It is a medical diagnosis. It means he is behind mentally. But I hate those words. I HATE them. Not because Grant is behind - but because people use those words as synonyms for stupid, for ugly, for any negative thing that they do not want to think of a better word for.
So today I am begging you as a fellow teacher, to talk to your students about this word. To tell them how it hurts. You have my permission to tell them about my beautiful boy. Tell them that even if others use it, it is not okay. It hurts people. People who would never hurt them. It is ugly. It is bigoted. Spread the word to end the word. You are huge influence on your students. Have them go to the website and sign the pledge. Let's get the "r" word out of the vocabulary of this generation. Please. I beg you from my tear soaked keyboard, please spread the word. Share this video of my son and his amazing friend Sofia explaining why this word needs to be eliminated! Please share and pin and share!