A Little Respect... The "R" Word

Many times since our move there is a little word that has popped up in conversations. It's a word that makes me cringe at its utterance. I wonder, how one little word can bring so much emotion?

The most heart braking utterance of the word came about in a meeting at my daughter's school. The head of the Special Education department was trying her best to softly deliver the blow; the classification in our new state is a bit different. Where my daughter's classification used to be "Multiple Disabilities", her speech delay currently outweighs her physical delays, and in the state of Texas the classification she currently falls into is "MR".

This is where I grab my chair and bite my lip hoping the tears don't come. You see "MR" stands for Mental Retardation. The term was so difficult for this educator that she couldn't even say the word. Now, the state we just left does not use that term; in fact that particular word in our home is called the "R" word. We don't use the "R" word. Its not that I have a problem with development delays; I love how my sweet girl views the world. I wish more people emphasized skills of kindness over math facts. I do take offense to the word because of the other ways I hear this word used. Which leads me to the times I have heard it used of late.

We were talking to a friend when they referred to a rule with the "R" word. I watched my husband's visible cringe, his face mimicked my heart. I hear kids at the store referring to things they don't like with the "R" word, people around me using it to imply bad, slow, dislikable, off-center, askew, or just plain different.

So my child is a little different, I thought we had learned to celebrate different. I thought this was a time, a generation, where different could be seen for its beauty. I love her differences. I have learned so much from my daughter about appreciation for the little things. I have learned the wonders of the world and trust me when I say the aren't times tables. My daughter may never have the kind of job that most view as successful, but she is already successful in my eyes. My little miracle has overcome more than many will ever have to and I know that her challenges may have just begun. Especially when I hear this hurtful word thrown around so freely.

So, I'm asking anyone who reads this to please remove the "R" word from your vocabulary. As one mom puts it, "Its not a matter of political correctness, its a matter of respect." Chances are you know someone who would be hurt to hear you use this word, chances are you know someone who has been referred to in a mean way by this word. Consider that person, how would they feel.


Amber said...

Thank you for posting this, I agree 100%. There is nothing wrong with the word in and of itself. The problem is the perception and misuse of it.

I grew up with many lables LD, ADHD and the like. My problem these days is with ADHD. When I was diagnosed it was rare and highly tested to make sure it was choosen. These days there are many different views. Either it dosen't mean anythign and its over diagnosed or those are 'problem kids." Grrr

I will be posting this on twitter.

Janet said...

Beautifully said. Amen. I have learned, as you have, that there are MANY things more important than math facts. Don't think that Christ's report card was ever mentioned in scripture, yet He was the greatest to have ever lived on the earth.


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