Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Spread the Word

Today is March 3rd, 2010. It is the day that Special Olympics is setting apart to focus on ending the R-Word. Retard. Retarded.

I have pledged before to help remove this word from everyday speech. It is a bit easier for me to try to do that. Some of you know about my daughter, Caroline. Caroline has Down syndrome. That is a genetic condition where she has three copies of the 21st chromosome. Clinically, she is mentally retarded.

Albert Pujols has a step-daughter with Down syndrome and he and his wife are very active in helping those with Down syndrome.

This is Caroline randomly posing for the camera about a month ago. This week she is getting ready for the state standardized tests. We're working on sight words and reading simple sentences. She can count to 100 by fives. She loves to color. She likes to watch Dora and Max & Ruby. She plays with her dolls and can kick my butt on some of the Wii games. She is in kindergarten, sharing time with her CDC and inclusion classes.

She is anything but retarded, in the casual (and callous) use of the word.

I've stepped up on this soapbox before. And I'll do it again. I'd encourage you to take the pledge at

I thank you. Caroline thanks you.


  1. I made the pledge also. Thanks for posting.

  2. The R word has always been tricky for me. I used to treat it a little like some treat the N word - if you're in with that culture (i.e. a budding special education teacher who has worked in group homes and assisted living for a number of years like myself), then it's okay, since you don't mean it that way. It was so far removed from individuals with developmental disabilities for me, and instead was just a nice sounding insult.

    That said, I've come around recently, mainly because I realize how my use can lead to ignorant use by others. If it's just a reclaimed word that doesn't mean anything, then it wouldn't matter to me. But if my reclaimed use helps validate someone's ignorant use in their eyes, then I don't want to use the word at all. I can come up with other "silly" insult words that won't continue a cycle of ignorance and hurt.

    So I'm now trying to stop using the R word (as well as gay and fa***t, which I was using in a similar vein given many close relationships with homosexuals). I'm not saying I never slip right now, but I'm hoping that within a few months it'll be completely gone (other than medically) from my vocabulary. As an added bonus, my girlfriend uses the word a lot, and since she knows I'm going to stop using it she is now acutely aware of every time she says the word. So by stopping my usage, I may be stopping hers as well. Nice little bonus there.

    Thanks for continually fighting the good fight Mark. When even people like me who are going into special education don't always see the word as a problem, it's hard to see progress. But people come around, and I'm going to try my best to stop using the R word.

  3. You are amazing Mark! I am in as well, thanks for this post. I wish you and Caroline the best!

  4. That is one cute kid you got there. What a gem.

  5. Hey, it's Angie's Nashville friend... My brother Anthony who was born with DS is brighter in many things folks couldn't dream of doing... you know where I stand.

  6. Wonderful post, Mark. Wonderful comment, SpastikMooss. We need more people to see the light like that. Because of Caroline, I did.

    Love you Aubreys!!!
    M :)

  7. Great post! Mar 3rd is also my wife's B-day.You have my support.