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?