4.06.2011

Spread the word to end the word ...

As most of you know, I work as a behaviorist for people with intellectual disabilities {some of my experiences have been discussed here, here, here, and here}.

I have been working for the company I am currently employed at for over three years and have been working this field for over 10. In fact, I have been involved in this community for as long as I can remember.
Here I am in third-grade volunteering with the Special Education program at my school.


I love these people. With all of my heart. Some of the most tender experiences this life has offered me have included these special people.

And because of that, I want my voice to be heard on something today.

There is an amazing international program that many of you have probably heard of, Special Olympics. It is a program that was developed in 1968 and is now in 170 countries and has over three million members. It is a program that not only allows people with disabilities to participate in athletic events and gain confidence and self-esteem, but also is extremely family-oriented and allows a beautiful environment for building and fostering relationships {for the Olympiads and those who coach, volunteer, and spectate}.

In 2004 Special Olympics adopted a resolution for a world-wide movement: to end the use of the r-word
{the oringinal medical condition known as mental retardation or mentally retarded}. While these words were originally clinicial and medical terms, the pejorative forms, "retard" and "retarded" have been used widely in today's society to degrade and insult people with intellectual disabilities. Additionally, when "retard" and "retarded" are used as synonyms for "dumb" or "stupid" by people without disabilities, it only reinforces painful stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities being less valued members of humanity.

In addition to eliminating the word from our vocabulary, in October 2010 the President of the United states signed a bill, known as "Rosa’s Law," the law removes the terms "mental retardation" and "mentally retarded" from federal health, education and labor policy and replaces them with people first language "individual with an intellectual disability" and "intellectual disability."

The word is offensive. It’s derogatory. It's demeaning.

Many of the individuals I work with cannot speak for themselves. I have taken it upon myself to adovcate for them. Their voices will be heard. I implore YOU not to only pledge to end the word in your vocabulary, but to also SPREAD THE WORD TO END THE WORD.

15 comments:

Meisha Marie said...

I'll admit that I have said it before. But NO MORE.

Thanks for giving a voice to those who can't speak up!

You are an inspiration Mindy.

Jamie and Brad said...

It is not a word I use a lot but I will certainly be more conscious of it now!
You are right they are some of the most amazing and loving people in the world and they are lucky to have someone like you standing up for them.

cami said...

amen amen amen and AMEN!!!

Erica said...

I will make a conscious effort to follow your lead. Thank you.

Burke and Emily Adams said...

Thanks for bringing that to my attention Mindy. I'm afraid this probably has been an unconcious part of my vocabulary and I will do my best to eliminate it! Side question: I love your "I'm a Mormon" button...how do you get/make those?

Meg said...

I have a cousin with down syndrome who participated in Special Olympics for years. It is an awesome program that does so much for the people involved. I've known a lot of other people involved with it, too.

I cut the r-word from my vocabulary years ago. I certainly have no intention of using it again. It is sad to me how so many words in our language can start out as something good, or neutral, and be slowly turned into something negative.

Mike said...

I can get behind this.

Allison and Josh said...

Beautiful post, Mindy! I am positive all those wonderful people you work with love you just as much as you love them. Sounds like such a fun job. I get a very small taste of it with my friend Nate at work. I just love him!

Olivia said...

I really appreciate you posting this Mindy. I need to watch my vocabulary and think about others' feelings more, not just with this particular word. I think there are a few common slang terms that can hurt others and we all need to be more conscious about that. You rock!

Allred Mom said...

Totally agree with you! I love working with people with intellectual disabilities!
I definitely pledge to continue to stand up for them and to stop those who use words about them that are derogatory.

p.s. I also could be found in elementary school with a special student! They make the best of friends!

Lisa said...

Great post and even better idea!
Thanks for the reminder of a good thing...

Shan said...

Thank you for bringing that to my attention. I agree with the post above, I use it without thinking and will now do my best to keep that word out of my vocab.

Jen said...

Ew, I never use that word and totally judge people who do. Well done! Also, let's get rid of using the word gay as something that means stupid. One, it's wrong in the same way as using "retard" to describe someone as stupid and two, its real meaning is "HAPPY", so get over yourselves people.

Marina said...

Mindy--
My husband is writing a paper for his Abnormal Psychology class, based on a DSM diagnosis. He chose to write on "Mental Retardation", and spent HOURS searching for articles (they had to be written after 2008) and couldn't find ANYTHING on the topic. Finally, he realized that the name had been changed,and realized there are whole JOURNALS devoted to the topic of intellectual difficulties!

Apparently his teacher hadn't gotten the memo that the name had been changed. Woops!

Jamie said...

Well said!

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