On a personal note, I feel the term "mentally retarded" or any form of it, belongs to US as so eloquently pointed out by Diane Grover of the [Toronto] Canada Free Press in her essay It's personal; Grover is the mother of a daughter with Down syndrome. As painful as it sometimes is, it is something WE live with because although it does not define Lucas, it is a part of his genetic makeup. In the same way only black people are entitled (right or wrong) to use the n-word...it belongs to THEM and out of respect, those of us with no experience for the prejudice and pain it causes have no right to use it.
Here are a few excerpts from Shriver's piece:
- Seventy to 90 percent of people with intellectual disabilities in the United States are estimated to be unemployed.
- Special Olympics studies reveal that more than 60 percent of Americans don't believe that children with intellectual disabilities should be educated in their child's school.
- Investigations have revealed people with intellectual disabilities as the victims of abuse, indifference and negligent death.
In the end, all I want is for Lucas to have the same opportunities we are all entitled to as citizens of a free world. And, for that, I will fight the stigma, the hatred, the stereotypes that see him and others like him as a label, and I will speak up against the use of that ugly, ugly word.