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Why I Ask You Not to Say the R-Word

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The “R-word.” You may hear it being said as you live your life. Maybe you hear it in the mall, a restaurant, at work, school, or as you’re walking down the street. I don’t know about you, but when I hear the “R-word,” it gets my attention. It causes me to stop and think to myself, “Do they really know how much impact the word they just said has?” Do they know the “R-word” can be like a slap in the face or a punch to the stomach? Do they know just how much the “R-word” word hurts?

I wonder, do they know just how much people with disabilities are capable of, how much we can do? Do they know everyone needs a friend, even those who may have different abilities? Do they realize that individuals with disabilities can hear them? And hearing that word, it hurts. It’s painful. I know they say words shouldn’t hurt, but some do.

You may think, well, I didn’t mean it like that! Or I wasn’t referring to that… well, it doesn’t matter. Choose a different word. Yes, even using the “R-word” to describe something totally unrelated to the disability community is totally not cool or OK. Find another word. Please, I’m begging you. How about ridiculous? Maybe the shoes look ridiculous, maybe you did something ridiculous, but not the “R-word.”

The best R word in my book is respect. Respect me as I respect you. Get to know me and give me a chance as I get to know you. Have an open mind, and remember the possibilities.

I wrote this post as an individual with autism who has heard the “R-word” too many times. I wrote this blog to advocate and speak up for my friends who may not be able to do so. I ask that you take a stand. I ask that you please choose a different word.

Take the pledge! Sign up to support the elimination of the derogatory use of the R-word from everyday speech and promote acceptance and inclusion.

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Originally published: February 28, 2017
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