Throughout the years I’ve heard numerous terms to describe special needs individuals. The names have changed over the years, but one has always finds its way to the front lines: Mentally Retarded.
While I understand the need for political correctness, it was a mistake for President Obama and Congress to approve this law.
Now before I go any further, let me be clear. I am not saying it is right to call a special needs individual retarded. What I am saying is that the English language allows many words to draw meaning from the context that it is used. There is a huge difference between calling someone retarded and using the medical term mentally retarded.
Let’s look at the definition. On Dictionary.com, retard is listed as a verb and a noun. With the exception of one definition, the term means “delay” or “slow”. Unfortunately the word itself has been given a negative context because some people enjoy bringing pain and sadness to these wonderful people.
I find the term “intellectual disability” to be inaccurate. To me that word is saying my brother, as well as other autistic and special needs people, are unable to learn anything new. That their lives are now limited. The term, to me, says there is no hope for them to grow .
My brother, Brian, can assemble a 200-piece puzzle before I can find the pieces to connect a single corner. He discovered features on his iPad that I did not know about. He can recite lines from Disney movies he has not seen in years and keeps track of every Disney name he’s given to someone. Intellectual disability? I don’t think so.
What about Stephen Wiltshire, the human camera? He doesn’t seem to be disabled at all.
We all have subjects where we do not succeed. I’m 21 years old and I would probably fail an algebra test today. Science? Not a chance.
“Intellectual disability”, in my mind, puts a negative image on people who are mentally retarded. While they may have a delay in learning, there is hope for them to grow. In the last 15 years, it was an accomplishment for Brian to speak in full sentences. Now he can recite an entire scene from Toy Story.
A comment from “Snow White” gave a great point. She describes her son as “Intellectually Different.” This term rings more true to the way the brain functions. Everyone is a genius at something. How we learn and process that information varies. Special needs individuals are no different. They have a different method of learning.