Thursday, December 02, 2010

Community Advocacy - Even More Vital

We have dealt with the word retarded before here. It is a slang that I think is quite misunderstood and misused.

I don't know whether it is the tough economic times or something else but I seem to be observing more and more attitudes about people who experience disabilities. I don't think I have ever heard the word "retarded" more.

Getting angry, while probably justified, is not working. We try to educate whenever possible. Here is an example of an incident that Billy Ray and I experienced recently.

A mother and two teenagers were within maybe a foot of Billy Ray when she uttered the R word. I do not think she was specificially referring to Billy Ray but he certainly picked up on the word. I took him by the hand and walked up to them. First I asked permission of the mother to talk to her daughter. Then I introduced Billy Ray to her. I asked her if she knew what the word retarded actually meant and she said no. I explained that it only meant slow and that while Billy Ray and I are both slow in certain areas it is probable that his strength in some area exceeded her strength in that area. She was truly embarrassed, apologizing a lot. I told her I didn't want that but I wanted her to stop and think so it stops at her generation not being passed down for future generations. She seemed more likely to remember the situation and alter her behavior than if there had been an angry blow up.

By helping the community to know our kids as they are instead of sterotypes,hopefully, we create deeper understanding and acceptance.

Advocacy must educate to achieve desirable results. It is taken me years to see that instead of blowing up.

Until next time,
Peggy Lou Morgan