I have started this post a hundred times and either deleted or backspaced it to death. The "r" word is very emotional and sad to me and it is very difficult for me to even put into words how much that word hurts me. Today is the official day to sign the pledge to end the "r" word.
I guess that it should start here. Here is my David minutes after his fast and crazy birth. Those sweet nurses that were tending to him were realizing about right then that he had "characteristics of Down Syndrome" at birth. After they placed him in our arms they frantically starting finding our pediatrician at the time to come tell us because they were certainly not qualified to do so. So technically this was the moment that the "r" word changed for me personally.
I feel guilty because I am sure that before that moment above I tossed that word around without thinking of the consequences. I remember during high school me and my friends called each other that all the time being silly. We meant no harm and I certainly did not have a person in my life right then that made that word take on a new meaning for me.
I remember in those early days after David's birth I tried to hold it together while grieving the baby that we did not have. I expected Kyle #2, not this different baby sporting an extra chromosome that would radically change me and be perceived differently in our world.
I wish that I knew then what I know now. I wish that I would have know how AMAZING it can be to have an extra chromosome and how much better people we all are because David is in our life. I wish I knew that with David comes some amazing life lessons that we would not have gotten to learn if David would have been Kyle #2. I wish I would have known that mothering David is truly one of the biggest gifts and blessings that the Lord has ever bestowed upon me.
So today as we all come together to raise awareness of the use of the "r" word I just ask you to stop and think about your words and your biases towards people with an intellectual disability. Words like "retard" minimize David and his friends and take away all the potential that God has bundled up in these little angels. Do not forget that David has goals and aspirations like anyone else and that he deserves to "shoot for the stars" just like any other child would. As of now, his main goal in life is to sing on the radio like Jason Aldean!
So today I urge you to stop and think about your words and eliminate that word from your vocabulary. Take it a step further and educate your children and family so that my David and his friends are free to pursue their dreams and goals in life without hearing hurtful words like "retard" or "retarded."
Blessedly because my David is growing up in such an inclusive environment he has yet to hear that word. He has been in a typical classroom since PreK and has never been exposed to that word. Our school system is wonderful and he has had every opportunity to succeed thus far. The only thing that David worries about is scoring some computer time to watch Jason Aldean on Youtube! So please support people with intellectual disabilities everywhere by eradicating that negative and hurtful word from your vocbulary and tune into your local radio station because one day you just might hear ole Dave singing away! With an amazing village around him supporting and cheering him on the sky is the limit for this dude!