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People use the R-word, retarded, carelessly or as an insult. Here are stories about ways we've dealt with it.
I was a young mom in the 80's, working from home for scheduling donation pick ups for a company going by the name of NW Center for the Retarded.
Lee Ann Flener
My son was born with Down syndrome on Jan. 1, 2016. I have heard the r-word used several times in my life and haven't really thought much about it.
My son has autism and since he was born, the word "retard" wasn't allowed in our house - even as a childish joke of a word.
I was in high school when the use of the word was brought to my attention. It was a moment of embarrassment for me when I used it.
I have helped at my school for two years with kids with disabilities.
My son was born with epilepsy and had two seizures a day. He was in special schools, as he didn't t walk till he was 7.
My grandson, now 23, fills my heart every day, with smiles and love. I am grateful that I have been able to share in his life.
I have always used the r-word. I try not to but I do. I am going to stop because I have a little sister who has autism.
My brother is challenged, and I hate when people use the r-word. It makes me feel bad because he can't say what he feels.
My beautiful girl, the light of my life, nows deals with being called many awful things by her peers, including the r word. If they'd take the time to get to know her, they'd see that she is many things (smart, beautiful, caring, kind hearted, and so much more).
Kenneth.Giles By Kenneth Giles
My neighbor, her name is Madison. She is 13 and she has cerebral palsy from the neck down, so she cannot walk or stand up. Even though she can't walk, she's so much fun to hang out with. She can talk and laugh and she has a pet gerbil.
Not everyone is the same. Everyone has their own abilities where not all are the same. God didn't make things the same for a reason.
I have always hated the r word, as some of those with that "label" are some of the smartest people I know. They figure out quickly how to play life's games.
We really need to stop hating each other and start loving and embracing our differences.
Terri "Maria" Ridgway
My two daughters go to a special development school. They love their school. My only sadness is my son calls them the r-word all the time.
I want to say thank you to everyone that knows that people with obstacles in their lives are just the same as everyone else. And in fact in my eyes they're better.
My name is Sammi. I have many disabilities. I was in special ed classes in school. That meant dealing with people calling me the r word.
When I was a kid I used the r-word frequently even picking on kids that were different....that is until I met Tony.
When I was a child my best friend had Down syndrome, I didn't notice it but as I got older I started noticing how other people made him feel.
My husband has dyslexia. He had to repeat his first and second grades. He was looked down on for being 'stupid, retarded', etc.
I am now a 60 year old woman. But when I was a child, I heard that horrible word so often.
It's a term used to belittle and an oppressive term that inpacts on all people with a disability and seeing people as less than non-disabled people.
We have more than one special kid in our family and the r-word is my biggest pet peeve. People use it all the time, but nothing makes me angrier as when it is used to describe a child.
I have intellectual disability and it not fair to say those words. I dislike that word. Lots of people used to call me that.
As I got older I realized that people were unconsciously using the R-word...and I was not okay with that.
A couple of years ago, a little boy with Down syndrome came into my life. I fell in love with him from the start.
My brother who is intellectually disabled once asked me, "why do people use the word 'retarded' to make fun of other people? That's what I am, isn't it? Why is that bad?"
I will fight ableism. The R-word is out!
I think that it's horrible that people will act so despicable towards people who are "not like them", as if they don't have feelings.
Heather Kylene Hillebert
When I was in 8th grade, some of my classmates would use the R-word offensively without knowing what it really means.
Growing up with a sibling with Down syndrome has its perks. My brother is one of the sweetest kids I've ever met.
For my girl scout silver award, I taught students at my school the meaning behind the r-word.
I can not believe how much society will segregate those who are special needs. It starts off right away as soon as they enter the school system.
Everyone is created differently. With different characteristic, different physically and different ability.
I lived in Lucasville, Ohio when I was a baby to 7 years old. My mom had a really hard time keeping me inside and out of the woods as soon as I started walking.
Yvette Pople Patil
While growing up there was not a day or person who wouldn't call me the R word even my family called me and it defeated my strength and my zest for a brighter future.
I live in Great Britain and many years ago the word commonly used for Down syndrome was "spastic" retarded was used as well.
When anyone used the word retard or retarded it was absolutely so hurtful, both when he was here with me and now to his memory.
Far too often, we choose words that dismiss individuals with different abilities, that dismiss their strength, their love, their vision, their endurance—how they survive even as they are knocked down.
Some years ago my youngest daughter (age 4) was asked "what's the matter with him?" about her brother's best friend.
Some years ago my youngest daughter (aged 4) was asked "what's the matter with him?" about her brother's best friend