Spread The Word To End The Word
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Health and Wellness

Spread The Word To End The Word

It's time to stop using the word retarded as a slang term.

Spread The Word To End The Word
Ashley Dickerson

We've all heard someone say, "Are you retarded?" or "That was retarded!" towards someone or something. A lot of people don't event think twice when they say it or hear it. But retarded isn't meant to be thrown around as an insult the way it is today. It's time people recognize that retarded is meant to be a medical term and using it in a negative light is not appropriate and never will be.

It's time to stop using the word retarded as a slang term.

I have worked with special needs kids for years, whether it was teaching them in my high school, or working with them through Special Olympics. It has always been my favorite part of my day, those kids always knew how to make even the hardest soul smile ear to ear. They don't see themselves as disabled the way most people do. They take on the day with positive attitudes no matter their ailment and how it's making them feel that day. These kids have a more positive outlook on life than I do, despite having it harder. Every kid I interacted with just wanted to spread all the love they had in their huge hearts to anyone willing to accept it. I don't think any special needs kid should be seen as just their disability, but rather what they have to give to the world and their ABILITIES. None of them deserve any of the negative light the word retarded is now getting.

When you use the word retarded to describe something negative, or call someone stupid, you are placing negativity around these special kids as well. It shouldn't make someone cringe when you call a mentally retarded person retarded because medically, THAT IS WHAT THEY ARE. Now, the word has such a negative connotation that people are uncomfortable by the word, which is absolutely not fair. Think back to a time when you heard the R word used as a compliment. Can't think of one? Me neither. People make being retarded sound like a bad thing, an insult, but it's not at all. I have been blessed with my special needs students and I see them as nothing but a blessing, so why can't everyone else see that? Using retarded as an insult is hurtful and dehumanizing to those with special needs because it creates an unwelcome stigma around them. Whether a special needs person is in earshot or not, using the word negatively condones the use of hate speech towards a rather defenseless crowd.

Recently, I've even noticed other forms of hate speech towards more specific special needs. I listen to my brother playing video games and I can hear people shouting, "Are you autistic?" or "Do you have Downs Syndrome?". Which is absolutely unacceptable. Most of my students were autistic or had Downs syndrome and I cannot stand to hear people making fun of others stupid decisions by using special needs as a weapon to make someone feel worthless and stupid. These insults are used purely to degrade people and why should their disabilities be what is used to degrade others? Their disabilities are not meant to be used to insult other people, they are meant to be cherished for the personality traits it contributes to each individual. There are so many things many people love about special needs kids, including me, and these special needs kids love themselves. No one, including them, deserve to be diminished to a single word that is now interchangeable with stupid.

So please, next time you hear someone use the word retarded as an insult, SAY SOMETHING. If you find yourself using the word retarded, STOP AND THINK WHAT YOU POINT YOU ARE TRYING TO MAKE and think of another way to make it. Spread the word to end the word, once and for all, for a community that deserves to be fought for when they can't fight and loved in all their glory.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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