Handling the "R" word - page 3

by mercyteapot 10,643 Views | 34 Comments

How assertive are you all about approaching people who use the "r" word? I have a co-worker who is aggressive about it to the point where she nearly got into a fight with a young woman at Target who was going through the... Read More


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    Quote from vintagemother
    What about my nephews and nieces with gray eyes and skin lighter than that of some Caucasians? Would their race/color be relevant in their diagnosis?
    In the ED, if they arrived with acute, severe SOB, it would be differential in SS, versus wasting time on an aerosol tx for asthma.

    I wonder what the general reaction would be if I had a crying, yelling demonstration over being called "white", and not by my lineage-Cornovii or Biturges. Equally, any report on me had better include, "DIABETIC"- it is what I am, and it has critical implications, poorly conveyed by fumbling, verbal self-gratification.
    TriciaJ likes this.
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    I can completely understand your co-workers reaction to the lady at Target, however I think sometimes the best approach would be to say "that can really, really hurt some people if you say that word". If they don't get the clue, they never will. I feel the same about the word "Spasticated" or "spastic", which I have heard used in reference to cerebral palsy as a derogatory term, not as the medical term. Kids often say it, and I think that's a great time to "nip it in the bud"
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    People do seem to go through target saying "Thats so African American" but they use the more crazy less "racial term, "That's so Ghetto"

    It's a tough one. I usually do not bother if someone is referring to housewares. But I do bother if it is someone saying"you are so retarded" And when someone uses MR as a descriptor for a person, they probably are trying to be correct in a clinical setting.... these days there are so many terms in use... developmentally Disabled, mentally challenged, developmentally challenged. It is hard ot know which is the preferred one.

    With that, I am headed off to chaperone our athletes at the Special Olympics at Disney this morning. Hope I don't drop an R bomb anywhere!!!
    TriciaJ and NutmeggeRN like this.
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    I dont think that any word is appropriate to use because it directs you right to the disability itself. It only draws attention right to it. And then people in their own minds eye make their own picture....until the person comes into view. Then the person who heard the WORD, can determine in their own mind the severity of the disability themselves....most people can view a person in a Wheelchair who has a broken toe as BEING DISABLED or physically challenged, even before they know the whole story behind why they are in a wheelchair. People always form their own conclusions before more information is retrieved. We should know this very well by our own News media in this country....they never get the story straight at first until more information comes in.
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    Quote from mercyteapot
    I wonder, too, if others find themselves thinking less of people due to their indiscriminate use of the "r" word.
    I think MUCH less of people when I hear them use 'the R word' offensively, I think less of anyone when I hear them use any pejorative. To me it's as foul as any ethnic slur.
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    I am young so I'll give a young person's opinion. I was bullied in middle school and constantly called "retarded" among other things. I was very smart, but it was just a word people used. I feel like my generation uses the word as something completely different than meaning anything about the mentally disabled. I do feel bad when I start to say that myself. Its really an emotional reaction and the word means something COMPLETELY different than the original use. Honestly, words are very subjective, especially when they are used to insult someone or something. In fact, just to be fair, instead of calling things "gay" (which I used to do), I started calling things lesbian in substitution to gay. Not to be offensive to anyone, just to acknowledge the desensitization of words like these.

    My point is that words are only subjective as to how they are used. To make fun of someone and say they are retarded is absolutely wrong. But for the word to slip out sometimes just talking about objects or activities, its not a crime, its just the way we speak. I understand that if you know someone who is MR then all of this can be very offensive, but its never directed at you or anyone else. Its colloquial, and unfortunate. Its unfortunate now because people are starting to bully others and calling them mentally disabled. It will keep going, and we'll continue to make new names for those who are truly affected by MR.
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    Quote from mercyteapot
    How assertive are you all about approaching people who use the "r" word? I have a co-worker who is aggressive about it to the point where she nearly got into a fight with a young woman at Target who was going through the housewares aisles calling just about everything other item retarded. I don't bother with those people, because face it, they're clueless and they're going to stay clueless. Years ago, I became incensed with my own husband for using the term retard (our son has autism and learning difficulties, although we have been told repeatedly over the years that the IQ tests that qualify him for an intellectual disability diagnosis can't really be relied on because of some of the issues the autism creates around testing. I suspect this is the case with many of our kids who qualify for the intellectual disability diagnosis- I have met so many people with autism performing above what would be expected relative to their measured IQ). Those reactions- not bothering with the stranger at Target and being appalled by my husband's remarks are probably pretty common. (Oh, and I just want to clarify that my husband didn't call our son a retard. Reading that sentence back, I thought maybe that could be unclear).

    I wonder, too, if others find themselves thinking less of people due to their indiscriminate use of the "r" word. I don't hesitate to speak up if I think the person who uses the term should know better. That includes nurses and other healthcare professionals and anyone who is employed in the education system. I don't care if you're the janitor, you should refer to the students with respectful language and the building principal should include that in all first day on the job behavior expectation talks. What I'll do most often, though, is just repeat what the other person has said, replacing the offensive word with something more respectful. How do you all handle it?

    The "R" word is used in the care plans of the residents I care for at an AFH.
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    If it's describing a condition a person has, I have less of a problem than if it's used to describe their intelligence or an action. I just try to think of what it would feel like if someone said "That's so diabetic" or "She's diabetic!" to mean "That's stupid!" or "She's stupid." If someone says, "Oh, she's diabetic," I usually don't get offended, because it's describing the fact that I have diabetes.

    I guess, though, unless we as a society change to be less hurtful to each other, using the r-word and other such language will be hurtful to some.
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    Using the term retard (about a person) is a lot more pejorative than using the term "retarded" about an inanimate object.

    We gotta pick our battles in life, and someone using the term retarded to describe a printer that won't turn on isn't one of them, for me.
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    People first language is best: a boy with autism, a girl with downs syndrome. Etc....

    Your disability is not you identity.



    Mental retardation is a medical diagnosis. It would be said like this: a boy with mental retardation.
    AmyRN303 likes this.


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