Tag Archives: r-word

The Power of Language

If you missed the radio interview in which Kevin participated last night, you can still listen to it by going to choicesradio.com.  On the right side of the home page, there is a box labeled “Recent Shows;” click on the show entitled “The R-word” dated January 20.

Kevin and Nic (eldest son of Monica of Monkey Musings) did a fabulous job with the interview, talking about their own personal experiences having a sibling with Down syndrome, how that has impacted them and how they see the world, and how it has made them very conscious of the concept of tolerance.  I’m very, very proud of both boys.  It takes a lot of chutzpah for anyone to speak out and stand up for what they believe in – let alone to do so and be an adolescent, risking alienation and ridicule by one’s peers.

It is extremely disheartening how prevalent words like “retard” and “retarded” still are, despite the current movement to do away with such language.  And while it might not be so surprising to hear epithets like these on the playground and in the halls of middle- and high-schools, it’s worth noting that these words fly thoughtlessly from the mouths of adults as well.  Parents.  Educated, professional people.  Politicians.  Teachers.  Even early intervention therapists.  It’s just so easy to slap the label of “retarded” onto anything viewed as substandard, annoying, ridiculous, or distasteful.  What people who use this language don’t seem to get, though, is that in so using such labels, they are in effect comparing things, events, people, or ideas which they personally find to be substandard, annoying, ridiculous, or distasteful to a whole class of people who are different by mere virtue of a medical diagnosis and differing abilities.  They are, in effect, calling these people – real, actual, living, feeling people! – substandard, annoying, ridiculous, or distasteful.  And it hurts – it hurts the people with differing abilities, and it hurts the people who love them.

It’s not just “retard” and “retarded” though.  There are so many words the fly around that disparage whole groups of people.  Gay.  Lame.  Idiot.  Moron.  Those are just a few very common, very popular ones.  Words that even a lot of people who despise and speak out against the R-word think nothing of.  Maybe I’m just too sensitive, too aware, I don’t know.  I just know that I want my kids to grow up in a world where nobody is put down and marginalized because of race, philosophical orientation, sexual orientation, or ability level.  A world where every human being, no matter size, shape, or color, is valued.  If people as a whole are valued, truly valued, the language will follow.  That’s what I think.

Kudos to Kevin and Nic for standing up and speaking out.

Siblings and Activism


Tomorrow evening, January 20, Kevin will be taking part in a radio interview concerning his experiences and perspective having a sibling with special needs.  I hope anyone reading this will tune in and listen to what he has to say.  The show can be heard live beginning at 7:00 p.m. PST by going to choicesradio.com.

The host of the show, Teen Talk, is Nicole O’Dell, a woman I got to know when I was active on a large families message board on pregnancy.org.  At the time that she and I became acquainted, I was pregnant with Finn, and she was pregnant with triplets.  She, as well as many other women from pregnancy.org, witnessed the online account of Finn’s birth and the aftermath, during which we found out he has Down syndrome.  Over time, my involvement on pregnancy.org evaporated as blogging and Facebook gradually replaced message boards for me, but several moms I got to know through pregnancy.org have continued to follow me and Finn through Facebook and blogging.  It always gives me the warm fuzzies when I realize that any of those women still take an interest in my family and how Finn has changed us all.  Nicole is one of those women, and here’s what she wrote about our family on her website concerning tomorrow’s show: The R-Word.

Nicole is a busy mom of six herself (including the triplets, who are now two years old), as well as being a YA author and a radio talk show host.  She had Kevin on her program one other time several months ago during a segment on bullying, so this will be Kevin’s second time participating in her radio show.

Kevin has always been outspoken about his feelings towards Finn and how Finn has impacted him and our family.  I hope you’ll tune in to the show tomorrow evening!  If you miss it, the podcast will be available for download Friday morning.