As I recall, we are currently in the year 2017, yet some people still think using the word “retarded” is completely acceptable. I can’t believe I even need to lay out the reasons why this isn’t the correct word choice, but, sadly, I do. If you know me or at the very least follow my blog, you know that I relish my title as the mother of Bailey Jones. Bailey, who has Down syndrome, continues to defy the odds of what society labels him.
A few years ago, I remember a friend using the word “R” word as freely and effortlessly as saying her name. This smart, dignified, respectable women, stunned me with her ignorance. Since I have no problem expressing my distaste for the word, I will never forget what her explanation was…..”I wasn’t referring to Bailey,”. Unfortunately, when it slips from your lips, you are referring to my son. I am offended because not only was she oblivious, she offered no apology. It was as if her ignorance was an excuse. There are no excuses.
My job as a parent of a special needs child is to educate. To gracefully – on a good day – teach those who sadly are misinformed about the effects that the “R” word poses on those of us who love someone that is intellectually challenged. I am not immune to the fact that this effort will continue. That potentially I should purchase dictionaries in bulk to hand out to these poor individuals who are hindered in their word choices.
Yesterday, as I sat in the parking lot of the high school where Bailey works, I smiled. I smiled because this institution is setting the foundation for those young men to possess better word choices simply due to his presence. Bailey is the masterful teacher and those impressionable students are getting a front row seat into seeing the contribution he is making in this world. The “A” word is what I believe describes Bailey and those like him….AMAZING!