little boy in a field

I wish the r-word would just disappear. Poof! Be gone. Permanently erased forever.

The r-word is a euphemism for “retard” or “retarded.” It is a derogatory and insulting term used to describe or insult individuals with intellectual disabilities. I’m so tired of hearing it and reading it on social media used to insult a person, place, or thing through comparison to a person with an intellectual disability. There is no correct way to use the r-word. None. It needs to go!

If you haven’t already, please kick the r-word to the curb, once and for all. I’m so tired of reading the expression “that’s so retarded.” People need to stop using it as a descriptor. It’s not a joke. The r-word has such a negative stigma attached to it.

In a world of social media and a pandemic, more and more people are going online including those with intellectual disabilities. They have a right to be in the online space free from disrespect and online bullying. I have seen friends use this word. It’s like a stab to my heart. They know the struggles that I have with my child, how hard he works, and the obstacles he faces and seeing them just throw that word around, out into the world- like nothing. It is beyond disheartening.

It is really one of the worst things that they can say. I wish that people thought before they spoke. I wish they realized how hurtful and demeaning the “r-word” is. I wish they could live in our world for a day so they could realize the love, kindness, strength, fight, heart, friendship, and perseverance of those living with intellectual disabilities. They are missing out.

This is more than a word, it’s about respect and attitudes. It’s about people looking down on others and judging them because of perceived capabilities. Never make an assumption about what another person can and cannot do. My son is an amazing little boy. He loves life and other people. He likes muffins, telling jokes, YouTube, and Buzz Lightyear. He loves hugs, stickers, swimming, and being included.

He is love, kindness, acceptance, purity, positivity, strength, and courage. He is smart. He is capable. He has encountered more obstacles, jumped more hurdles, and climbed bigger mountains in his mere five years than some people encounter in a lifetime. He is more than any assumption, barrier, limit, or diagnosis. He is and will always be more than the ignorance, negativity, hate, opinions, and preconceived notions of others. He will always be more than the r-word.

This post originally appeared on Stalen’s Way Facebook.
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