The “R” Word: Parents, Help Me Spread the Word to End This Word by Sue Westervelt

Special Needs
5 years ago

The “R” Word: Parents, Help Me Spread the Word to End This Word

More than likely, no one reading this is unaware of what the “R” word is. But if you are, I’ll give you a hint: It’s a word that describes a person with slow or limited intellectual or emotional development, better known as mental retardation.

As a parent of a child with autism, I am an advocate not just for my son but for all people living with disabilities. There is no other word on this planet that I find more hateful, unjust or offensive than the “R” word. I believe in freedom of speech, but I also believe in basic human kindness, dignity and compassion, too. It’s the one word that can bring tears to my eyes, pain to my heart and sickness to my stomach.

So, what can we do when we hear “the word?” As a parent this is a great opportunity to remind your children of a time when they felt the pain of a hurtful word. With adults, respectfully ask them why they chose that word. Or share that the word upsets you and possibly others around you. Make it a teachable moment and educate the person to speak for those who cannot, and to advocate for families like mine.

Visit and join nearly 800,000 others who have pledged to “spread the word to end the word.”

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Ann Marie Patitucci
Thank you for sharing this with us, @Sue.Scherer.Westervelt ! I couldn’t agree more about the importance of spreading the word to end the word. Welcome to our 30Seconds writing community. We’re so glad you’re here!
Elisa Schmitz
Couldn't agree with you more, @Sue.Scherer.Westervelt ! I rarely hear this word anymore. Our kids were raised to know it's not OK to use it, and they are shocked when/if they do (and they say something to the person who said it). Thank you for raising awareness of this, and welcome to our #30Seconds tribe. Excited to read more of your perspectives!
Michael Kennedy
I work with The Special Olympics regularly so this really hits home. Bravo to continuing to spread the campaign to end the R word!
It’s simply unacceptable.

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