And then she said….

Wednesday was a pretty big day around here.  It was the day that we  share with others the damage done by using the r-word.

Yes.  Even if you aren’t talking about Parker, that word stings.  Offends.  Hurts.  And makes you wonder why people are so set on keeping it in their vocabulary.  I hear all kinds of reasons as to why it’s okay to make use of the r-word.

Case In Point:



My beautiful, 21 year old Curly Girl, after posting a link to a page where her friends could sign a pledge to take the r-word out of their vocabulary, received this message:

“You know there is another side to this story.   When my Mom worked at the American Fork Developmental Center, the r-word WAS the politically correct word to use in regards to those who had Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities.”

“As a matter of fact, each time my Mom sees one of the kids she used to work with she gets so excited and exclaims, Look!  there’s one of my Retards!”

“She says it with such love, McCall.” McCall and Parker

Yeah, she may say it with all kinds of love. Unfortunately she says it with absolutely ZERO respect. 

All my daughter did was simply ask for others to show a little respect to a kid who has been through more in his eight short years than most of us will go through in our entire lives.  A kid who works harder than any other kid I know.

It is time to end the r-word.

Heck, the American Fork Developmental Center no longer accepts kids with Down syndrome.  Instead babies with Ds stay at home with their families, go to school, work, and become contributing members of their community.

THAT’s got to tell you something, doesn’t it?

It’s time to retire the r-word, regardless of how much love you use it with.  (gag)

PS:  While I’m not saying this woman didn’t love those she worked with, I AM saying that the r-word is now fraught with such derision it is time our society make the choice to no longer use it.


About Tammy and Parker

Special Needs Blogger, and homeschooling Mom, heavily involved in advocacy for all kids with special needs in Utah.


  1. Tammy, as you are well aware, the r-word is slowly but surely passing from widespread use. Within another generation, it’ll all but be consigned to the dustbin of outdated vernacular. In the interim, it is our privilege to pray with you and Parker. He is brave indeed.

    • McCall says:

      I agree that as time goes by, common vocabulary changes along with the world. However, the faster this word disappears from slang vocabulary, the better! There should never be any amount of disrespect to those with special needs in the first place. I personally like seeing the dust bunnies of the world out the door sooner than later, yeah?

  2. Maria Cordner says:

    I’ll say! Thanks for staking out the truth about this. No small thing!

  3. Julie Dinkins-Borkowski


  4. Chris says:

    That reminds me of how Nana’s otherwise very respectful and professional teacher who has said that she is “too downsie” to do certain things. I’ve heard the word ‘retarded’ used clinically and professionally about her many times in her short life. ‘Professional’ certainly has evolved in recent years, thank God.

    When I tell my kids that people should not say that word because it means Nana, they are so adamant that it doesn’t, and how could *I* say such a thing. To them it means ‘idiot’, ‘stupid’, and has nothing to do with their sister. When I explain that it was a medical term used by doctors and teachers about her, they don’t believe me. In a way, that is good. I think many in their generation consider it a bad slang word that they shouldn’t say to be polite. At least, I hope so.

  5. Cathy says:

    Unfreakingbelievable! The string of vulgarities I would have unleashed on that person would have left her with no doubt as to what category that word belongs in. As far as that being the politically correct word at that time, BS! The correct medical term at that time was “Mentally Retarded” or “M.R.”. NEVER, EVER “retards”. I have family that worked there 30 years ago. They would be horrified. My sincere admiration for your daughter, as I am sure she handled it better than I would have.

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