In 2015, the annual day for “r-word awareness” is March 4.

This day highlights the mission of many allies and advocates of people with developmental disabilities in “spreading the word to end the word.”

And by that, it is meant to end the use of the word, “retard.”

I hosted blog hops for two years in a row. There are many, many outstanding posts on the page, and unfortunately, they don’t go out of style. Read them here.

Now, I’m going to be honest:

I think the word “retard” has morphed into something different. When young kids say it, I think that 9 times out of 10, they don’t relate it in any way, shape or form with a person with a developmental disability.

But even if the intent with most people is not at all related to developmental disability, I believe it is wrong to use it, simply because the original targets of the word – people with developmental disabilities – have asked the rest of us to not use it.

Their feelings about it are more important to me than proving some stupid point about semantics. They are the ones that get to decide whether or not we chuck the word, and they have decided.

This diagram says it all:


The word that rubs me raw now is the word, “special”

“Special” is the new “retard”

Because, unlike “retard” morphing into something else, “special” has not. It absolutely and directly means ‘person with a developmental disability.”

When people say, “oh, I feel so special”, they are saying that they feel like they have a developmental disability. It’s a punchy little twist on “special needs.” Use “special needs” interchangeably with “disability” as so many people incorrectly are these days, and “special” becomes short hand for “person with special needs.”

“You special person, you”.

Just another way to get a dig in at people – like my daughter – that society views as less than.  It’s okay to make fun of them, right?

“puh-leeeeze, that’s so special.”

I caught this in my Facebook feed.


It’s supposed to be this funny little ditty on notes that people leave on windshields. See how it says, ‘don’t bring politics into it’, like the “special” part is understandable.

It’s okay to poke fun at people with developmental disabilities, we gotta get our kicks somehow, right?

I don’t even have words for how wrong this is to me.

So all I can ask you reading is, PLEASE. Please take to heart the mission of r-word.org :


Pledge to show respect to everyone.

Don’t use the word “retard”. Don’t use the word “special” as the word “retard” once was used. Strike that “special” in the context of “special needs”and developmental disability right out of your verbal ballpark.

Show respect to my daughter and her tribe, please.

Make these words as unacceptable as a racial pejorative.

Prove that you are an ally through your use of other words.

Prove that you have the decency and strength of spirit to stand up to others who say those words. They are not cool, they are not funny. They are cruel, hurtful, small-minded, mean-spirited.

Pledge to show respect to everyone.

Do more – visit r-word.org and pick up some of their logos, banners, buttons and printables.


Have a blog post to share? Please visit “Give Us Your Word” and add the link to your post

 And –

There is a documentary in the making on the r-word:

IndieGoGo Crowdfunding Campaign info:
Campaign Page Name: The R-Word: A Documentary Film
Tax-Deductible Donations thru The Film Collaborative:
The R-Word Documentary Film website:
We will also be posting updates and links to our social media pages, so please feel free to connect with and share those as well:



This is a space for posts on ending the use of the “r-word”. Spreading the word to ending the word.

The links will re- open until midnight on Sunday (March 9th).

Please share YOUR post on ending the word by linking your post below. The post can be something you wrote yourself or a favorite post that someone else wrote (but please make sure it’s not already linked below and also that they are okay with their work being shared).

2015 Edition

2014 Edition

2013 Edition



from the good folk at Signing Time:

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Rachel & the TreeSchoolers Sale! Get all 3 DVDs and CDs for just $49.99! Use code TS15 at checkout

I know someone who still says, “nigger”. That word that is so offensive that I hesitate to even type it, let alone say it. But he does, my Grandpa Knobby. He says it when he feels like saying it. He says it because he thinks it’s funny, he says it because he’s from Texas. He’s also literally close to 100 years old. He says it because he likes getting a rise out of people. He says it because he doesn’t think there is anything so bad about the word – it comes from ‘negro’ and isn’t that what African Americans were called up until a few decades ago? What’s so wrong about the word ‘negro’? It just means ‘black’, after all.


White people stopped calling black people ‘negro’ and ‘nigger’ because black people said they didn’t like it. It was a long battle, but for the most part, it was won. Nowadays, most people will just say “the n-word”, because actually saying anything else makes everyone gasp, it’s just *that* taboo.


How alike “nigger” is to “retard”.

Both ugly words with ugly meanings, ugly histories. Just ugly. People with developmental disabilities say “don’t use that word, please – it’s offensive to us”. And everyone scoffs, saying this is a over-reaction. “Jeez, we’re not even talking about you!”  “Whatever.” “I just meant ‘dumb’. Isn’t that what ‘retard’ means? Means ‘slow’? “, “Am I supposed to take it out of the dictionary?” “When does this PC-stuff end? Time to get off, already“, ” It’s so retarded.”

Yeah. And 30 years ago, wasn’t that what was said about “nigger”?. “God, these blacks… what’s it with them? Why do they have to make such a fuss about everything?“, “Uppity, is what they are”, “What’s the big deal? It’s just a word.”


 “Nigger”. “Retard”. Just words.

As Nathaniel Hawthorne says, “Words- so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become, in the hands of one who knows how to combine them!


For me, using or not using words transcends power and boils down to being a matter of basic courtesy. If a person that is a part of a group that is being called a word – nice or not – asks those that are not in the group to NOT use that word in conjunction with their own person or group of people, why then, the word shouldn’t be used.


It’s really pretty simple.

Isn’t it?


 Tomorrow is March 6th, which is the day to Spread the Word to End the Word.

Let’s take that pledge together, you and I. Let’s honour those members of Moxie’s tribe that have told us that it hurts them to hear it. Let’s make it as obsolete, irrelevant, outdated and offensive as the n-word is now.




People who have said it better:

The best post I’ve ever read about the r-word:  It’s Just a Word

Resources, videos and more: r-word.org

Word Gone Wrong: awesome NYT article

I've used the word, "retard" plenty in my life. In no way did I ever associate it with a person with an intellectual disability; it was reserved for people without disabilities, people who were absolute moronsouch – another word linked to intellectual disability? – or total, complete idiotsdouble ouch – yet another word linked to intellectual disability?


Do we have any words that clearly delineate stupidity without it being linked to intellectual disability?


Imbecile? – no. It's linked.

Dimwit? Linked.


Going to thesaurus, synonyms of "idiot" are:

Blockhead, bonehead, cretin, dimwit, dork, dumbbell, dunce, fool, ignoramus, imbecile, jerk, kook, moron, muttonhead, nincompoop, ninny, nitwit, out to lunch, pinhead, simpleton, stupid, tomfool, twit

…and they note:


  an idiot  is a stupid person with a mental age below three years, while a moron  is a stupid person with a mental age of between seven to twelve years


Great. Got it. Thanks.

As I was saying, I used the word, "retard" plenty in my life. I used it freely with George W. Bush, a non-intellectually disabled person whose capacity for true stupidity was in my opinion, matchless. All the way up to and beyond having Moxie, I used the word "retarded", within the definition-associations on the right –

The ones on the left were more obvious to me as being definite linkages to the pejorative, "retard". To be brutally honest, I still thought the pejorative from time to time, mostly out of habit. I didn't say it anymore mostly because I've heard enough people with intellectual disabilities asking everyone else to quit using it – and I respect that. I honor that.


Then I saw this on facebook:

And I cried.


And I feel like I felt that one time when I was a kid and I was standing on the street and a group of far bigger kids were throwing rocks at me because I was so white, so scar-faced, so different. First, uncomprehending, I cried. Then I got very angry – and in my rage, I put my head down and charged, one after another, head first, smack into each and every big kid that I could reach.


I want to charge and smack the living shit out of anyone who laughs over "smiling like a retard" jokes now. Because maybe they are not directly referring to her at this moment , but it's likely that they will be at some point in the future. Because I don't want my daughter to be that kid who is getting rocks thrown at her.


Because my precious girl doesn't deserve to have her disability linked up with a word synonymous with moron, idiot, cretin, imbecile.

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