Today I get to sit in on an IEP meeting and listen to the school psychologist tell me the results of all the testing indicate my daughter's IQ score falls in the range for mild mental retardation.
It isn't something new. While she's never had an IQ test done before, and no one has "officially" diagnosed Kayla with MR, it is pretty much par for the course with a Down syndrome diagnosis. I expected those results - I knew her IQ wasn't going to be in the 'average' (100) range.
Knowing that, and accepting that, doesn't mean it makes it easier to hear. It's still hard knowing your child is being labeled that way, but we deal with it and move on and realize a number doesn't give a true reflection of what she knows, who she is, what she's capable of, and what her personality is. It doesn't mean (as my husband pointed out to me) that she's not going to stop learning. It's still hard though.
But what is harder to hear is the negative connotation that is now associated with MR. The way the word has been taken so far out of context. The way the word is used casually as a put-down. The way the word is used about people and things when meaning "stupid" or "ugly." It's hard to hear "That was so retarded" and "He's so retarded" "I just did x,y,z, gosh I'm so retarded." It's so easy to replace the word "retarded" in those instances with another "r" word that is so much more appropriate - "ridiculous" - it's easy enough to say "That was ridiculous!" One small change in a word used can make a huge difference.
Because words? They do hurt. They do matter.
That's why I'm joining in...
What It's All About Spread the Word to End the Word is raising the consciousness of society about the dehumanizing and hurtful effects of the R-word and encourage people to pledge to stop using it. America is being asked to declare their support for more respectful and inclusive language, specifically that referring to those with intellectual disabilities.
Here are just a few of the events that are being planned all over: - American University, Beirut, Lebanon: Soeren Palumbo's R-word speech played hourly; movie "The Loretta Claiborne Story"; posters, pictures, online R-word signups. - All high schools in Delaware: All 40,000 students will be asked to sign pledge boards in their schools. - Tower Hill School, Newark, NJ: Spread the Word day as culmination of a week of exploring disabilities - Fort Worth Independent School District: Lunch-time rallies, video shows, student testimonials and R-word pledge boards - University of Kansas: Sign pledge boards - Western Michigan University: See posters, sign pledge boards, talk with committed volunteers and Special Olympics athletes. - University of Nebraska: Sign the pledge board, talk about why you support the campaign, get stickers, buttons and bracelets - Princeton University: Sign the R-word pledge, see big-screen displays of Special Olympics and R-word videos. - Slippery Rock University: Sign pledge boards, get buttons, bracelets and stickers for free, buy T-shirts