Down Syndrome Awareness Day #2: The r-word

“You are such a retard!”

How would you feel if you heard someone saying that to one of your loved ones? Likely you would recognize that they are being mocked or insulted.

How “retardation” went from a clinical description to a word of derision

When they were originally introduced, the terms “mental retardation” or “mentally retarded” were medical terms with a specifically clinical connotation; however, the pejorative forms, “retard” and “retarded” have been used widely in today’s society to degrade and insult people with intellectual disabilities. Additionally, when “retard” and “retarded” are used as synonyms for “dumb” or “stupid” by people without disabilities, it only reinforces painful stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities being less valued members of humanity.  For example, you might hear someone say, “That is so retarded” or “Don’t be such a retard.” When used in this way, the r-word can apply to anyone or anything, and is not specific to someone with a disability. But, even when the r-word is not said to harm someone with a disability, it is hurtful


Today, March 2nd, is R-WORD: SPREAD THE WORD TO END THE WORD campaign day. 

A few years back, Jack was mocked by a small group of boys who surrounded him after school, and started telling him he was a retard. Jack asked them to stop, as his emotions mounted. Sensing his emotional reaction, one boy said, “Your brother is a retard, so that means you are a retard too!”. They laughed and walked away muttering “retard”. Jack cried the whole way home from school. Finally able to catch his breath he said, “I don’t care what they call me, but I don’t want them to ever say something like that to Peter!”


Please visit for more information, and consider joining the pledge to spread the word to end the word.

“Everyone has a gift and the world would be better off if we recognized it.”
– Timothy Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics. 


2 thoughts on “Down Syndrome Awareness Day #2: The r-word

  1. That is awful, what are those boys learning at home where they think that was ok? Jack should not have gone through that, but what a great brother to be concerned over Peter!

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