Friday, February 22, 2013

The "R" Word

The "R" Word
Justin at age 13

I was dumbfounded the first time I heard Justin was mentally retarded and the realization hit me that he would never live a normal life.  It was hard to accept and took awhile for me to even be able say it without crying.  I knew the stigma attached to this label and I couldn’t help but wonder how receptive people would be towards my little boy when they found out he was the "R" word. 

 The disabilities weren't so obvious when he was younger, but as he grew older more people began to notice “something was wrong” with him.  I tried to focus my attention on teaching Justin proper manners when in public, but I still noticed the stares, whispers and snickers.  The two things that have hurt the most is when people have looked at him with disgust or said "look at that retard".

 I understand why they would be a little standoffish since many haven't been exposed to someone like my son and I've thought many times about what I would say to them.  First of all I would want them to know that there is nothing to be scared of with Justin except for his morning breath.  I would also tell them what a happy, friendly and loving young man he is.  Then with my fingers crossed and a quick prayer to God, maybe just maybe they would want to at least tell him hello.

Yes my son is the "R" word, but to me the "R" stands for his "resilience" to deal with the issues he's been faced with.  Like everyone else in life, my son has a purpose and maybe part of that purpose is to change people's views of someone with the "R" word; even if it is just one person at a time.

As always thanks for reading,
Angela :)


  1. Hi. Your comments are so honest and hopeful, I really respect that. I have a child with autism who never used to want to communicate. Now he talks to everyone and just assumes that they will want to talk to him. It's hard to see the cold, mocking or bemused stares when he's being so enthusiastic and friendly. But it's such a big leap from his fear and isolation, that I thank God for every step of progress that has brought him this far. Our children are special in so many ways. They have a lot to teach us and the rest of the world.

  2. One thing about parents of children with special needs....we are always thankful for every bit of progress they make because we see how hard they struggle to make that progress. You are also correct when you say they have so much to teach us and the rest of the world.....Thanks for reading and keep in touch.