There are a lot words and phrases that describe my son, Brady:
• intellectually disabled.
Brady was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at 18 months old.
At the time of the diagnosis, the well-meaning neurologist told us the prognosis for his development wasn’t great.
I guess doctors need to be careful not to provide parents with false hope, and if so, this mission was accomplished.
I still remember driving home from Children’s Hospital, Brady in his car seat, blissfully unaware that his parent’s world had just changed.
I remember the air in our van being thick, dripping with grief, sorrow and silence.
Despite what we heard and how we felt on that day, Brady has exceeded all expectations.
He now walks unassisted, he has an ever expanding vocabulary, he loves horseback riding and dancing, and he greets his classmates at school every day with a high five or a hug.
Although he still faces many obstacles, he meets each of them with a smile on his face, regardless of his diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy.
Yet, there are those who would still label him retarded, and not in a clinical sense (groups like The American Psychiatric Association have replaced the R-word with Intellectual Development Disorder).
Yes, there are still people who use the R-word – retard or retarded – in an effort to be funny, to describe someone acting silly, or to describe doing something because of lapse in concentration.
For my family, the R-word is a symbol of a society that still doesn’t recognize people with intellectual disabilities as equal and valued.
Hearing the R-word is a reminder that our son faces a world that can be patronizing, dismissive, or downright cruel to people who are different.
The R-word is hurtful and derogatory.
It is offensive to all those with intellectual disabilities and their supporters.
Changing how society views those with intellectual disabilities, though, rests with you.
Wednesday March 1, marked the annual day of awareness for the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign.
This campaign asks people to take an online pledge to stop using the R-word.
Taking the pledge won’t eliminate the problem, but it is an important step to building a more inclusive society as the language we use colours the world in which we live.
To live in a more positive, caring and supportive society, we must use language that is more positive, caring, and supportive.
Once you have taken the pledge, tweet it.
Just share it.
Make respect the new R-word.
Brady appreciates your support.
• You can take the R-word pledge @ http://www.r-word.org/r-word-pledge.aspx
Grant Frend is principal at Thomas Haney secondary.