Gail Bass, mother of four Special Olympics North Carolina/Cabarrus County athletes understands all to well how powerful words can be.
Gail Bass of Charlotte is the mother of seven children and four are Special Olympics Cabarrus County athletes. She has seen and felt the painful effects of the r-word. Her words remind us that words do have power and to choose those words wisely.
My daughter had a very difficult time in middle school and high school. She was often called lazy and dumb by her teachers and classmates. I knew she had learning disabilities in a lot of educational areas. We invested a lot of time and energy into fighting for her rights. It was a difficult and stressful battle. The school just couldn’t accept the fact that because she “looked” so normal she could possibly have disabilities. I was her biggest advocate and I never gave up the fight. It felt like my life was one big IEP plan. As a mother, I knew her capacity for learning but unfortunately the school did not. I knew she was not “dumb” or “lazy”.
She became very withdrawn and knew she was different and not learning like her classmates. She had very few friends because she was not accepted by her teachers or classmates. Sometimes when her classmates wanted to hurt and degrade her they would say she was retarded. She came home from school many days crying and said she didn’t want to go back. I could see the hurt in her innocent face and it broke my heart. It seemed like I had to educate the entire school about the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities. Eventually her teachers realized she could learn just at a slower pace. Their unreasonable expectations softened. But the damage had been done. My daughter’s self confidence had been destroyed and my respect for these teachers had been lost.
Society can be so cruel and insulting at times. My daughter only wanted to be accepted and respected by her teachers and classmates. Being called retarded really scarred her. She was convinced she was dumb and couldn’t do anything right. In my heart, I felt like I wanted to personally educate everyone in her school.
Read the rest of the story at the link below.
About Gail Bass: My name is Gail Bass I am the mother of four Special Olympics athletes. My life is Special Olympics and dealing with the negative effects of the r-word. I hope Spread the Word to End the Word works and soon noone will have to endure the pain the r-word causes.