This weekend I overheard a conversation of two people talking about an appliance being retarded and that it must have been made by retards because of how it worked. I actually lost track of how many times the word retarded was thrown around. I was literally two feet away from these people sitting there with my two sons, in shock but remaining calm. I have always said that I will step in and say something only when it affects me or my family. Yet I left the party and thought about it, woke up this morning and thought about it and here I am now still thinking about it. I do realize these individuals were not plotting to hurt my feelings nor my child's but do not think they realize the hurt in the word itself "retarded". I cannot even say the word aloud because I actually feel like I am swearing. If it comes out of my mouth, it is referred to as the "R" word. Hearing it feels like a kick in the gut, it stings and brings me back to those first couple days in the hospital after having Carter. One of the doctors said the words "mild mental retardation" in reference to my baby. My son, the small precious bean that had just been born into this scary world where the word like "retard" is thrown around. I knew from that day forward the word had a whole new meaning to me. I will admit I too was guilty before Carter of using the word, never directed at anyone but in other situations because I never realized the impact of such a word. Now it takes on a whole new meaning.
In the medical community today they are actually working towards removing the word "mental retardation" from literature and replacing it with other terms like intellectual developmental disorder, intellectual disability or intellectually challenged. I personally would rather use the words "special abilities" instead, because honestly my child is rocking every ability he has to the fullest and that is what counts.
In other news last Friday Carter and I were invited to Kentwood High school to talk about our family. The teachers at school had seen our family video done by Children's Therapy and asked if we could share our story with their Home and Family lifestyles class. Nervous as ever, we agreed and I put together a few things to show the kids. I showed the class our video and then talked about how our lives were just like their families even though Carter had been born with an extra chromosome. And the last part of my lesson concluded with asking the class to refrain from using the "R" word. Making our younger generations aware of the impact of this word will hopefully start to make a difference. I hope and pray that this word will be a thing of the past and no longer be used by the time my little one enters school. The thought of Carter hearing that word, well it breaks my heart. I never want him to feel an ounce of hurt because of that word.
So this is where my crusade began, the last couple days have lead me to here. I have started a Facebook page called "Losing the R word in support of those rocking an extra chromosome", you can find it on my Facebook page "Alison Becker Tharaldson". Please like us and pass on the message. I have no idea where this will go or how many people we will reach but it has to start somewhere. So here we go, are you ready to roll with us? It takes a village, please be a part of our village!