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A word too commonly used…

September 18, 2008

And needs to stop being used at all. Parent with children suffering from Downs Syndrome, Autism, Aspergers and many other afflictions will get the message here far better than parents with normal children.

I thought the message was fantastic. Hope it means something to someone and stops just one person from using the word.

Click here and watch it’s not that long.

20 Comments leave one →
  1. klemmy77 permalink
    September 18, 2008 8:50 pm

    Bravo Curt, Bravo. Thank you for again and again saying so much louder everything our families are thinking. My wife had worked with a wonder young man who has autism. I can not start to tell you what it means to these families to have someone to honestly care and give a darn about their children. My son is going through the testing for Autism, so I know first hand what it is like. All the sleepless nights searching to find answers, also knowing how much of a change it will have on our lifes. Hopefully many others will take the same stand. Enough is Enough.

    – Matt

  2. September 18, 2008 9:00 pm

    Wow, you’re on a blogging fury aren’t you! LOL.

    My nephew is a bright young boy, highly functioning autistic with Asperger like traits. My sister fights tooth and nail being his advocate — especially in the mainstream school system where he’s being integrated.

    Respect is not easy to come by for people who are challenged in any way; and it’s heartbreaking for a parent to have to fight for such a basic right.

    Shameless plug – but, anyone who reads this -if interested, there’s a Walk for Autism on Oct 19th, 2008 at Suffolk Downs.

    Great PSA – thanks for sharing!!!

  3. therandar permalink
    September 18, 2008 10:19 pm

    First let me say that Curt you have done more for charity than I could ever hope to accomplish in 2 or 3 lifetimes, so I respect your opinion, and your feelings, but I disagree completely with this type of soft language. Children (and adults) can be cruel, no matter what makes you different, they will point it out, and it doesn’t matter what word they use to make their point. I use the R word all the time, and never to make fun of someone “intellectually disabled”. To be honest I would be more insulted by people using that type of phrase to describe me, because I would know they are thinking about it, they just don’t want to admit that it is real. This type of language makes it easy for people to put this type of condition out of their reality. The truth is they need to be confronted with it so that they know the very real truth that this is a human condition.

    This post made me think of two men, maybe they can express my point better than I can.

    “A rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet.” – a poet named Bill – a comedian named George

  4. bigunit3000 permalink
    September 18, 2008 10:47 pm

    Many people that want to ban the “R-word” or otherwise cringe at the utterance of it I feel are well-meaning. However, the word has completely shifted in meaning when used out of context of mentally challenged individuals. Yes, granted, using the word to describe one of the wonderful souls in the aforementioned video is wrong. Just wrong. But the word, which has taken on a new meaning for a while now, no longer means mentally challenged through no fault of ones own and instead means mentally challenged explicitly through ones own doing. Misusing it would not only be mean, it would also just be plain incorrect.

    But the fact is, mentally challenged advocacy groups and individuals have been distancing themselves from this term. If these individuals and parents and other caretakers introduced themselves as (redacted), using that word would be much less derogatory. But instead, groups have favored using either less specific, or more cumbersome names for the same purpose, neither of which help to bring the deserved respect to the people that they describe.

    Finally, the restriction of use of this word is a very slippery slope. If we cannot use this word, then why shouldn’t we also ban “idiot?” Or even go so far as to restrict the use of “slow?”

    So, in short, the R-word could have been reclaimed into a term of unity and pride, but instead has simply taken upon a different connotation outside of its original usage. Just don’t try and say that now that we’ve lost the chance to use it properly, nobody can use it properly.

  5. mdbeau permalink
    September 18, 2008 11:18 pm

    I’ve seen that PSA before and it’s beautifully done. As a mother of a daughter who has Down syndrome, thanks for spreading the word on this – it means a lot.

    But also, as a mother of a daughter who has Down syndrome, I did want to say she isn’t “suffering” from Down syndrome -it’s just something she has.

  6. justaguyinthenation permalink
    September 19, 2008 5:28 am

    Also, no one should see the movie Tropic Thunder which uses the R word 17 times, rubbish!

  7. mattmcclime permalink
    September 19, 2008 7:29 am

    I think that this was aimed directly at me (not specifically). I used to use the R-word to refer to perfectly capable people who did completely idiotic things (like the guys from Jackass). I would always refer to people with special needs by their given affliction (autistic,down’s, etc.). Then a friend asked me what someone who had Down’s Syndrome would think I was referring to if he heard me use that word. And I haven’t used it since.

    That’s a great PSA.

  8. rivaritekfan permalink
    September 19, 2008 9:51 am

    My daughter was recently diagnosed with Autism and she is “normal” to us. We prefer to use “typically developing” children.

    Words are powerful, people have to be strong when others can’t. I have run into a few ignorant people and have given them my take, sometimes more strongly then I would like, but when it comes to my daughter, or anyone else with disabilities, I will defend. Then we just move on and keep doing what we do.

    Thanks for the posting, hopefully it gives people something to think about before they speak.

  9. jhunter46 permalink
    September 19, 2008 10:10 am

    Curt, I love your blog and I wouldn’t normally reply, but I think this post is a little off base.

    I’m currently wrapping up a degree in Secondary Education, and I had to take a few Special Education classes to fulfill the curriculum requirements. Like many people my age (sub 25) I used to throw the word retarded around quite a bit. In fact I think I called Ben Davis a retard when he broke up your no hitter in ’01. After my time in school though, I’ve never used the word out of context.

    In and of itself, Retarded is not anymore of a derogatory term than Psychotic or Depressed. It is a correct medical term with a clear and succinct meaning.

    According to the World Health Orginization, someone may have Moderate Mental Retardation if the

    “Approximate IQ range of 35 to 49 (in adults, mental age from 6 to under 9 years). Likely to result in marked developmental delays in childhood but most can learn to develop some degree of independence in self-care and acquire adequate communication and academic skills. Adults will need varying degrees of support to live and work in the community. ”

    There are other ranges to Mental Retardation, but with skilled and caring professionals available in school and services open to parents with disabled children, new doors are being opened all the time for people who at one time may have had few options.

    To use the word out of context is demeaning, but to dismiss the correct use of the word entirely does a disservice to those who have an unfortunate disability.

  10. empirelady permalink
    September 19, 2008 10:11 am

    I do not know if you have heard the song that the group Peter,Paul,and Mary perform but it addresses exactly what you are talking about. It runs off a whole list of ways that we appear to be “different”,be it fat,thin,short,tall,of a
    different race or religion,living with other things as you mentioned in your post,and then the song goes on to say:
    Don’t laugh at me,don’t call me names,don’t have pleasure from my pain,in God’s eyes we’re all the same(someday we will all have wings to fly)..don’t laugh at me.
    You are once again absolutely on the mark when you mention that the r word is used much too often. It is cruel,hurtful,unfeeling,and should not be used at all. Anyone who is a human being should not make fun of another human being for any reason. Thank you once again for everything that you do;you are certainly a beautiful human being and make the world a better place for all of us.
    Donna Blanc,in New York City,

  11. September 21, 2008 1:13 pm

    This election is quickly turning into such a fiasco that it is unbelievable that our country even knows how to run itself at all. Our political institution has become such a joke on our globe it ridiculous. I think that our country is heading a direction that is unstoppable by any opponent. I think both sides have their own intentions and we are all told what we want to hear. If you look back on history every society who has ever been on top eventually crumbles. I think we are in the early stages of crumbling.

  12. September 21, 2008 5:43 pm

    As the mother of a young adult daughter with High Functioning Autism, I want to say Thank YOU! She has been called the R word and many other things. To those who know her, though, she is loving, bright, kind, compassionate, caring, giving, intelligent, and the best daughter ever. We’ve actually had people ask if they can touch her – like she is some goat in a petting zoo! That PSA just brought me to tears… Thank you, Curt.

    Chaiah (ToofarawayfromBoston)

  13. September 21, 2008 5:48 pm

    jhunter said: To use the word out of context is demeaning, but to dismiss the correct use of the word entirely does a disservice to those who have an unfortunate disability.

    We are not talking about the correct usage of the word. So, you are the one who is off base. 🙂 This discussion is about those who use the term in a derrogatory fashion. Most children with autism have some measure of mental retardation (slowed growth), for instance, but that is not the context of the word we are discussing here.

    It is extremely rude and mean and just plain nasty to look at someone and say “You are retarded.” You know that and THAT is the context of this discussion.

  14. kdawg32190 permalink
    September 24, 2008 3:14 pm

    I watched the video just now and i have to say that I knew exactly what it meant. I’m a young man with Asperger’s who went through a lot when I was first diagnosed at age six. I’m glad there are people like yourself who show support for those like myself. Now by looking at me you can’t even tell I have this condition. It’s people like you who make a difference in this area. There are many wonderful people with this condition; we all deserve the same respect as everyone else. So thanks, Curt, for pulling for us, when we pulled for you on the mound. I’ll spread the word, that the right r-word should be in all our lives.

  15. professorperry permalink
    October 8, 2008 5:12 pm

    Curt – I don’t know how much you track back comments, but I (a SoSH member) had this published the other day. It’s about being the father of a boy with Down syndrome, and some thoughts about ways to make our discussion of the issues being a parent entails. It’s at:

    Just thought you and some of your readers might find it enjoyable (and nice and short).

  16. October 19, 2008 3:11 pm

    I have to say growing up with Curt was my only claim to fame. We were not really friends but we did play Little League 2 years in a row on the same team We also attended the same High School. To be able to watch his career grow into what it is today. And to see him prosper into the great person with outstanding family values is a unbelievable. Hey Curt I have our full Little League photos from the A’s and the Angles…….The A’s team photo has your dad as the assistant coach. I keep these pictures private as it holds a dear place in my heart. But you are more then welcome to a copy if you would like to show your kids.

  17. sh00tingbeauty permalink
    October 29, 2008 12:18 pm

    That’s a great video. As a Boston guy, you might get a zing out of watching this 2 minute video, coming right our of the Boston area:

    Same message, very different treatment. A full documentary is coming out soon. In fact, this may sound crazy but you wouldn’t have any interest in spending an hour at an intimate screening/fundraiser right in Boston on the evening of December 10, would you? This home grown project — and the participants– would never believe it…

    Please drop me a line if you think you might be at all interested… and thank you for all of the good stuff that you do for so many!

  18. February 14, 2009 8:49 am

    Nice post! GA is also my biggest earning. However, it

  19. February 14, 2009 8:54 am

    You made some good points there. I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog.

  20. February 14, 2009 8:57 am

    Keep working ,great job!

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