Tuesday, March 31, 2009

a caregiver reflects on the R-Word

     As a caregiver you are both a shield against 'others' and an educator to 'others' especially when the person you care for is never unattended.
     Special Olympics unquestionably edgy campaign to end the R-Word today, 03.31.09 frankly is confusing to me.
     Long ago in a language no longer spoken the Latin word for slow, tardus, would eventually evolve to many variations of the R-WORD.
     Trying to draw attention to correct language usage is a tough line to walk at the risk of political correctness in absurdum.
     Oddly the Special Olympic promotional videos depict people using the R-Word as teenage ‘who’s in’ or ‘who’s out’ slang of social status or cliques not directed at or intended to hurt anyone with mental retardation.
     To me, a concern with such a campaign is that others are inadvertently painted with the same brush. State departments of Mental Retardation and The ARC of the United States (aka Association for Retarded Citizens) greatly benefit and assist those who need their help.
     Mental Retardation is a medical diagnosis and people and families NEED help. Lacking adaptive skills or the abilities to speak and understand, a person can be overwhelmed by the simple tasks of everyday life. In living with Autism, Mental Retardation can be comorbid for some.
     Yes, I used an IQ based graph for a visual to DEMONSTRATE the impact of mental retardation. MOST reading this fall between the two tallest blue and green bar ranges.
     I created the inserts for Mental Retardation from Assessment Psychology Online and for Austim Spectrum from Autism, IQ, and the Stanford–Binet.
     Maybe I just do not get the bigger picture or am just too pragmatic in these economically challenged times but millions spent over words could have helped some people and families in need.

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer


  1. I agree with you on the money spent and the emphasis of the words.

    In music, we use "ritardando" abundantly. "To gradually slow down." Sometimes we will say things like "don't ritard (retard) quite so soon." It's never derogatory and completely appropriate.

  2. When I worked in specialized pedi @ a local hospital, we regularly used the MR Scale, and called it that. I did have some people question me: DID YOU SAY THE MENTAL RETARDATION SCALE? They acted like I "preferred" to use that name, not as if it were THE name. I am divided on this. I don't want anyone hurt, I don't want to appear, or BE insensitive....

  3. I thought the R-word in the caregiver context was "respite". I'm such a ... I won't say it.

  4. I also agree with you about the money.
    Thankfully it is not a word we hear much over here in the UK.

  5. As an older nurse who has seen terminology change all the time I still remember when we used it and I know none of meant it in a bad way. But then we traced it back to the word meaning. Good post.

  6. Totally agree, Patrick. Any word can be used in a cruel way, but to paint all areans with green money for THAT is a dumb idea.


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