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October 29, 2015

Being “Retarded”

I know several people, some very close to me, who use this word as freely as they use “LOL”.

I get it.  I used this word back when I did not care about what came out of my mouth.

When my son received an Autism diagnosis (over 12 years ago)… it changed everything.

Today. many people still see Autism as a form of retardation.

I do not.

Using the “R” word was common place when I was growing up.

In ever school, the special needs class was “full of retards” regardless of the actual diagnosis… and no one cared if that word was offensive or not.

When I was in kindergarten, I recall being moved into the gifted classroom because I was ahead of my classmates.

Instead of being excited… I was heartbroken because it was the classroom where the special needs kids used to be.

Of course, I did not know that their classroom had been moved.

I thought I was being seen as less than smart, which is why I was being placed in this class.

In fact, I was so distraught… that my mom moved me back to kindergarten.

As a species, we tend to take great care in our appearance (i.e. Is my hair okay? Do these jeans make me look fat?, blah blah blah.).

We also care a great deal about the things we have.

Imagine how amazing the world would be if we extended this “mindfulness”… to the words we spoke?

It is my deepest intention that the following blog elicits in you more compassion and mindfulness when speaking, so that when you speak, you speak words of power and upliftment.

All around me, people use the word “retarded” without a second thought.

Sometimes, I’ll say “Um, dude, really?” and they’ll say “Oops, my bad!  But really!  I was being so retarded!”

Sometimes, I let it slide.  I realize that it’s a word that’s ingrained in our society’s vocabulary and people use it without a second thought to its meaning.

But what does it mean to be retarded?  Well, I know what it doesn’t mean.

It doesn’t mean not being able to choose something for lunch despite 100 choices in front of you.

It doesn’t mean not being able to find your car keys.

It doesn’t mean saying the wrong thing to a person.

It doesn’t mean forgetting your best friend’s birthday.

It’s not something to describe yourself as when you’ve spilled your coffee, or tripped on a crack in the sidewalk.

It’s not something to describe to your computer, car or phone.

According to  Merriam-Webster Dictionary  the word “retarded” means –

: slow or limited in intellectual or emotional development or academic progress

For me, it’s not just any old word –

For me, it’s not just any old word – it’s my daughter.  My beautiful, bright, happy, loving, amazing daughter who is slow or limited in intellectual development and academic progress.

In our household, being retarded means something different.

It means not being able to fully care for yourself.

It means not understanding what the doctor is going to do to you.

It means not being able to explain what hurts when something hurts.

It means not being able to ride a two wheeler.  Or read.  Or ever be able to live on your own.

But ever the optimist, I also know that  in our household retarded means…

…never realizing the negativity behind the word retarded.

…never knowing the insensitivity surrounded the word’s usage.

…never realizing the ignorance of people.

…never knowing how other people view you.

Being retarded also means…

…loving unconditionally.

…finding joy in the smallest of things.

…being self-confident.

…not realizing that there are limitations.


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Phoebe Holmes discovered she had a talent for writing during her sophomore year of high school, when her class was assigned a project – writing a Gothic Romance of at least five paragraphs.  Phoebe’s novella, “Test of Thyme”, was several chapters long and earned her an A+ from the teacher who had, up to that point, hated every paper she had written.  She has been blogging for several years, and has contributed to Scary Mommy, The Mighty, Huffington Post, HLN, and Health Magazine.


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