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The R Word

The R Word

“How mentally retarded do you expect her to be?”

 

These words were uttered by someone who should know better. Surely, I must not have heard her correctly. But there it was still hanging over us.

 

“How mentally retarded do you expect her to be?”

 

I froze.

 

Suddenly mute, those words kept echoing over and over in my head.

 

Developmentally delayed

 

Chromosomal abnormality

 

Unique

 

Any of those descriptions would have been appropriate.

 

“How mentally retarded do you expect her to be?”

 

Who says that anymore?

 

Intellectual disability is the preferred term, but not the one I use to describe the little girl who brings color into my world.

 

This supposedly educated woman who knows my child suddenly went down a few rungs on my ladder of respect.

 

“How mentally retarded do you expect her to be?”

 

The little girl she was referring to wears her “designer genes” with pride.

 

I should have spoken up, schooled her on the correct terms to use, pointed out her ignorance. Consumed with emotion, but silent, I quickly hung up the phone.

 

“How mentally retarded do you expect her to be?”

 

I don’t.

 

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