The following information was taken from here:
The R-word, “retard,” is slang for the term mental retardation. Mental retardation was what doctors, psychologists, and other professionals used to describe people with significant intellectual impairment. Today the r-word has become a common word used by society as an insult for someone or something stupid. For example, you might hear someone say, “That is so retarded” or “Don’t be such a retard.” When used in this way, the r-word can apply to anyone or anything, and is not specific to someone with a disability. But, even when the r-word is not said to harm someone with a disability, it is hurtful.
Because of this, Special Olympics and the greater disability community prefers to focus on people and their gifts and accomplishments, and to dispel negative attitudes and stereotypes. As language has evolved, Special Olympics has updated its official terminology to use standard, people-first language that is more acceptable to our athletes.
The word "Retarded" took on a whole new meaning on December 5, 2008, the day Sweet Ethan was born. In Ethan's doctor's own words this is how they explain our sweet boy - dysmorphic male, coarse facies, hypertelorism...blah blah, I think you get the picture. We do know that Ethan has developmental delays and Neurologists and a Genetic Doctor has told us that Ethan is considered "mentally impaired". Other doctors have told us that we really won't know for sure until he is 6.
The reality is he is not "typical" he doesn't talk or walk and isn't interested in doing with most 2 year old are doing right now. YET. He will, we know he will, if he is 5 years old and is just taking his 1st steps alone that will be just fine with us. So because I have a child with lots of medical issues and delays the word "Retarded" is not a word that is used in our vocabulary.
So many use the word in passing but when they say it, it is hurtful because it's typically used in describing someone who is stupid, dumb or slow. Well, my Sweet Ethan is none of those things as well as many other special children that I know. My son is strong, a fighter and determined. So if you call someone like my son "Retarded" just know what you might get yourself into...
Most of my family and friends are pretty careful about this word because they understand our family and know that it hurts us but occasionally someone slips. It's OK if that happens, just apologize and move on. Don't ignore it as if it didn't happen though, because it's real and it did. The other kids are very aware of this hurtful word and know that if they ever used this word to be hurtful they would get
Today, I have asked my facebook friends to update their profile status in honor of Sweet Ethan and others with Intellectual Disabilities with this picture. Will you?
Very special people are counting on us to make a difference.