A Modern Day Fairy Tale

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Change Your Words, Change The Attitude. #SpreadTheWordToEndTheWord

I love a great conversation with a friend or acquaintance. Stories are being told, laughter is abundant. You're connecting and don't want the conversation to end. Then suddenly, your conversation buddy does or says something silly and the conversation screeches to a halt with 3 little words...

"I'm so r*****ed!"

Suddenly, it's like you've been slapped in the face. 

You see, as a parent to a child with special needs, one of the biggest challenges is not dealing with our children. It's not therapies or treatment plans or IEPs. These are challenging for sure, but there is nothing more challenging than dealing with the attitudes of others.

"But he looks normal..."

"He just needs more discipline."

"Give him a spanking."

"If he were MY kid..."

These are the attitudes that we face each and every day. It is the attitude that says we as parents are doing something wrong. It is the attitude that says autism is merely an excuse for bad parenting. It is an attitude that blames my kid for giving ME a hard time, rather than understanding that it is in fact HIM who is having the hard time. It is an attitude that says because my son carries a diagnosis, he must be less than.

And the r-word? It feeds into that attitude. When you use this word to call yourself silly or clumsy or even dumb, you are saying that the individuals who actually would have classified for that medical diagnosis-people like my older brother- are all of those things. You are using a word once used as a diagnosis for REAL issues to put yourself down. In doing so, whether intentional or not, you're also putting down millions of individuals who are differently-abled.

"But I don't mean it that way."

Of course not. I truly believe that most people using the R-Word truly don't mean anything harmful by it. They honestly don't even realize because it has become so common, so accepted. But the reality is, regardless of intention, the r-word is hate speech. Just like every other slur out there given based on race, religion and sexuality. Yet, somehow, this one is okay. WHY? The reality is, it shouldn't be. And as a mom to a child with special needs and a sister to a brother who actually carried the diagnosis, I passionately urge you all to take a look at the language we use and consider how it affects others.

This is not a matter of freedom of speech or being politically correct. This is a matter of respect. I want my son to live in a world where he is given the respect he deserves...not looked down upon because of a diagnosis. I want him to live in a world where differences are accepted and embraced, not mocked and ridiculed. I want him to live in a world where the r-word is a thing of the past.

So, what can YOU do? It's as simple as taking a pledge. If you have not already, I urge you to go to http://www.r-word.org/ and pledge to eliminate this hateful word from your vocabulary. Then Spread the Word to End the Word yourself. Share this post, encourage your friends to sign. Create a world where respect is the new R-Word.

Today is the annual Spread the Word to End the World Day, and there is no better time to start the change. I hope that you'll join me. What ways are YOU Spreading The Word?


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