Spending my day as I usually do online I saw a tweet from Tanis that caught my attention. The tweet had a link to this post at her blog, The Redneck Mommy. Of course I clicked over because she often writes about her adorable son with special needs, which was the case in this particular post. I was a little upset to find that I hadn’t even heard of Spread the Word to End the Word until today. As a mom to a child with autism I try to pay attention to anything related to support for kids with disabilities, but somehow I had totally missed this amazing website devoted to ending the use of the R-word – retard or retarded. Those words don’t ever leave my lips or even enter my mind so to even type them makes my stomach turn a little. This is one of my very favorite pictures ever taken of my kids, Cody and Nick.
The reason it’s a favorite photo is because of the moment that was captured in this picture. It was Cody’s birthday and his younger brother, Nick, was helping him to read his birthday cards. Cody reads at a level way below his current grade level, but that doesn’t make him a retard. He requires support in nearly every aspect of his daily life, but he should not be considered retarded because of that fact. He’s Nick’s big brother and Paul’s and my son and he is possibly the happiest person that I know. He can make us all smile with his contagious excitement over a plane flying overhead or the ridiculous joy he shows when a contestant wins on The Price is Right. He’s a boy who is most happy at home with his family with his laptop in front of him and a glass of water at his side. He sees the world as black and white and doesn’t get sarcasm and most definitely doesn’t have a mean bone in his body, so why anyone would look at him and even consider calling him a retard is heartbreaking to me. My wish is that the word never existed in the first place and my hope is that it would be erased from the minds of all human beings from this day forward. Regardless of a person’s ability (or lack thereof), their appearance, or quirky behavior, nobody has the right to call them something so hurtful and disrespectful. Their life is just as valuable as anyone else’s and they deserve to keep their dignity intact at all times. I hope you will consider taking the pledge to Spread the Word to End the Word.