Before Ruby was born, I never even thought twice about using the word “retard” or “retarded” to describe people and things that I thought were stupid. I wasn’t using it to make fun of people with special needs, but I also didn’t consider how my use of the word might hurt those around me. When I was thrust into the world of special needs parenting, it became crystal clear to me exactly how much damage I’d been doing by using the r-word. I felt ashamed.

I am fortunate that I haven’t yet felt the pain that comes from someone calling Ruby the r-word. But I can’t even tell you how many of my friends and colleagues say the r-word without hesitation around me. I’ve also been subjected to many “short bus” jokes that are anything but funny. Despite the pain that I feel when these comments are made, I truly believe that they’re not saying it to hurt me or anyone else with special needs. I don’t think they realize that the word they’re using as slang degrades my daughter and thousands of other people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Today, on Spread the Word to End the Word day, I made a pledge not to use the r-word. I hope you will pledge not to use the r-word, too. And make sure to check out the links below to some really amazing blog posts on this topic. Visit for more information on Spread the Word to End the Word.

Uncommon Sense: The word “retarded” is not cool

Love that Max: If you ask people not to not use the word “retard”

Attack of the Redneck Mommy: Hear My Battle Cry

J.C. Wert: The retard in the next booth

Huffington Post: Bullying Revisted: Retarded?

10 Comments on Spread the word: The r-word hurts!

  1. Jeff Goins
    March 2, 2011 at 7:34 pm (7 years ago)

    Thanks for lending your voice to this campaign. I just found out about it, but I hate that word, and testimonies like this one inspired me to join.

    • Angie
      March 2, 2011 at 9:09 pm (7 years ago)

      Thank you, Jeff. I loved your blog post, too, and shared it on my Facebook and Twitter pages. Great writing!

  2. Jason
    March 2, 2011 at 9:20 pm (7 years ago)

    Angie, thank you for making your voice heard & for the link to my post. I really appreciate it.

    • Angie
      March 5, 2011 at 1:47 pm (7 years ago)

      Thanks, Jason! I am so sorry for what you went through, but thank you for sharing your story.

  3. Enabled Kids
    March 3, 2011 at 11:11 am (7 years ago)

    Thank you for writing such an inspiring post! You’re right, many people today don’t realize just how hurtful their words can be. We really do need to work to change our vocabularies, and focus less on what our children can’t do and more on what they can.

    I’ve shared your post on our Twitter. If you’re interested, maybe we can collaborate on something since we also have a blog called Enabled Kids. Hopefully we can get the word out and inspire others to do the same!

    • Angie
      March 5, 2011 at 1:50 pm (7 years ago)

      I love your blog! It has great information for parents to better support their children. I’d love to collaborate — feel free to send me an email at with any ideas you have.

  4. katscafe
    March 3, 2011 at 6:43 pm (7 years ago)

    Thank you for writing about this. As another mother of special needs children, I have, unfortunately, dealt with both the unintended and the intended hurtful remarks. It only takes one voice to spark a change. Hopefully the many of us joining together will spark a change in the hearts and minds of millions. I, too, have a personal blog and one for an organization I founded called The Rarelink. I am still new to this blogging platform and linking is, sadly, something I haven’t quite mastered yet. But it is so gratifying to see so many thoughtful and well-spoken folks writing about a topic so near and dear to me already.
    Another voice among many and wife and mother to three very special little men.

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  6. Lisa Appleton
    September 16, 2014 at 9:26 am (3 years ago)

    my 5 yr old daughter has Down Syndrome. By definition she is retarded and I hate it that people use the word retard as an insult. You do something stupid “oh you retard” You do something evil/hurtful/wicked ” oh you ****ing retard” By calling someone a retard you are actually saying that that a retarded person is stupid, evil, wicked, dumb and that being retarded is a BAD thing!! I know people don’t do it intentionally…I do believe that, I also believe that if you explain why you get so hurt that a decent human being will stop and think and may take the word out of his vocabulary xx

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