Over the semester, I have been taking a class that enables me to work with students who have disabilities. The class enables children with disabilities the opportunity to work on their fine motor skills, range of motion, and listening skills by allowing them to do activities in a heated pool. I work with two very charming boys who have completely stolen my heart. I work with Jonathin, age 21, and Carson, age 14. Both of these boys have severe cases of autism and struggle with difficult obstacles every day of their lives. Most of those obstacles are things you or I will never have to deal with in our entire lives. On swim day, you can always guarantee each student will have a smile on their face and are ready to have some fun!
There is no doubt that in our society today, people discriminate against others, especially if they look different. Most of the time, people put down others who can defend themselves. I'm talking about oppression towards racism, sexism, religion, etc. All of these people being oppressed have the ability to stand up for themselves even if they choose not to. What about people with disabilities? They physically and mentally do not have the capability of defending themselves. This is exactly why I have pledged to spread the word to end the word.
You may be thinking....what is the word? The word is retard or retarded. The R-word, “retard,” is slang for the term mental retardation. In today's society, it has become a very common word when indicating that someone is being stupid, such as, "you're retarded" or "stopping being a retard." When used like this, even if it is not meant towards a person with a disability, it is still offensive. The fact of the matter is though, is that the word is insulting and has dehumanizing and hurtful effects. Because of that very reason, I have decided to completely cut this word out of my vocabulary.
Millions of people have a mental disability all over the world. They did not choose to have this disease and simply do not have the ability to stick up for themselves when they are being mistreated. So the next time a disabled person is at the butt of your joke or you call a perfectly normal person a “retard”, think carefully. There are so many people that know someone or are close to an individual with a disability, so you never know who you are offending. I pray that before people look down on someone because they are different or prejudge a person by the way they look or act, they put themselves in their shoes first. It is no surprise that Jonathin and Carson are two of my favorite people in the world. They do not know it, but every Thursday, these boys make my day and remind me of how much God has truly blessed me with. I am so thankful that God has allowed me to be a part of bettering their lives!
I would urge you to take the 10 minutes to watch this video. It tells a good story of how people view disabled individuals today and why we need to stand up for them, as well as why cutting out the r-word is so important. I promise it will make you rethink the things you say!