Spread the Word to end the Word

A lot of health care providers read this blog and a lot people who care about health read this blog.  Many of you are, no doubt, aware that mental retardation is a medical diagnosis.  Are you also aware that on March 1, 2011 the American Medical Association recommended replacing mental retardation with “Intellectual Disability”?  The reason for the change is the derogatory use of the word “retard” or “retarded”. 

There is a campaign underway by youth associated with the Special Olympics to rid our language of the R-Word.  Here’s some more information:

It is time we Spread the Word to End the Word and build awareness for society to stop and think about its’ use of the R-word. That R-word is something hurtful and painful – “retard” or “retarded.” Most people don’t think of this word as hate speech, but that’s exactly what it feels like to millions of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families and friends. The R-word is just as cruel and offensive as any other slur. Visit www.r-word.org to make your pledge today. 

  • Up to three percent of the world’s population have intellectual disabilities – that’s 200 million people around the world. It’s the largest disability population in the world, perhaps you know someone?
  • We ask that you help us change the conversation and help eliminate the demeaning use of the R-word from today’s popular youth vernacular and replace it with “respect.” We are asking for your help in creating a more accepting world for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and all those people that may appear different, but have unique gifts and talents to share with the world.
  • We’re asking every person – young and old – to help eliminate the demeaning use of the R-word–a common taunt used to make fun of others.  Often unwittingly, the word is used to denote behavior that is clumsy, hapless, and even hopeless.  But whether intentional or not, the word conjures up a painful stereotype of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  It hurts. Even if you don’t mean it that way.
  • People with intellectual and developmental disabilities are capable and enjoy sharing life experiences – listening to music, playing video games, watching the latest movies, and yes, having fun – as well as working together toward athletic excellence and mutually enriching one-to-one friendships as demonstrated constantly through Special Olympics and Best Buddies. They can attend school, work, drive cars, get married, participate in decisions that affect them, and contribute to society in many ways.
  • Did you know that by casually using the word “retard(ed)” to refer to an action as less than ideal you are making someone with an intellectual disability feel less than human – whether you mean to or not?  Demeaning any of our fellow human beings by using inappropriate words toward any population negatively impacts all of us.

About Craig Thompson

I am a young professional with two great sons, and I work in the healthcare setting. I am employed in hospital administration and serve as Chief Executive Officer at Golden Valley Memorial Healthcare in Clinton, Missouri. At GVMH we care for our families, friends and neighbors. We're committed to providing the safest, friendliest and most compassionate care to all we serve.
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