What's R Got to Do With It?

Posted by ZenMom Thursday, March 4, 2010

We interrupt this normally light-hearted blog for a very serious topic -- one that is near and dear to my own heart.


Just last weekend, I read two editorials for and against the campaign to end the "R" word.  In case you don't know what this is referring to, there are those out there that would like to ban use of the word retarded.

I look back to when I was a kid and how this was used to describe those with developmental disabilities or one of your friends that had a particularly bad blond moment.  No harm, no foul, right?  After all its just a word. 

Yeah, right.

Today, I have a totally different perspective.  You see, I am the mother of a child with autism.  Brilliant, quirky and able to think on a totally different plane than the rest of us, he's a genius in the making.  Yet, over the years, this one little word has cut my child to the core more times than I can count.


He's different.  He doesn't always know the right words to say, is a bit uncoordinated and tends to goes on and on about his favorite subject.

Kids can be cruel.  And grown ups can be stupid.  I don't know how many times I've heard boys will be boys, after my son was beaten up or called the "R" word by the "popular" kids. It was not taken seriously and nothing was done.

And so it continues.

The worst of all is the result.  After hearing this so often, my little guy began to believe it.  For so long, he thought he was dumb -- too stupid to do anything right.  And he's not alone.

He's just one boy in one school.  There are so many others like him.  So tonight, I'm here to tell you this is so much more than just a word.   It is a symptom of a bigger problem.  A society where intolerance is not only ignored, but sometimes encouraged.

So I will do what little I can to change the world.  I'm going to take the pledge.  Won't you?

Fighting the good fight,
Digg It! Stumble Delicious Technorati Tweet It! Facebook


  1. Yup, right there with you. My (good) kids say this on occasion and I'm on their case constantly. I think it's working. I hear kids saying this all the time, nice kids who don't want to hurt anyone. Even kids that wouldn't use "gay" as a dis are using "retard." But I think re-education can make a big difference. Count me in!

  2. Susan Fobes Says:
  3. I hate that word and have corrected my students when I hear it. It just sounds so nasty!


Zen and the Art of Motherhood

Twitter Updates