by Dr. Richard Garnett Executive Director, The Arc of Greater Tarrant County
Over the last ten years, the call to no longer use the word “retarded” has become a deafening command. First, The Association for Retarded Citizens changed its name to The Arc. Next, The American Association on Mental Retardation changed its name to the American Association on Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities. After almost 5 decades of being called Mental Retardation, this influential journal has now changed its name to Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities. The change is happening and now begins to be evident among our children and future leaders of America. In April, Soeren Palumbo, a senior honors student in Wheeling, Illinois, gave an impassioned speech to a gymnasium full of his high school peers and faculty and received a standing ovation. Speaking on behalf of his sister, who has a developmental disability, this outstanding young man spoke from his heart, struggling to hold back the tears, and took his peers and teachers to task for their use of the word “retard” and for their discrimination against people with disabilities. “In such an era of political correctness, why is it that “retard” is still ok? Why do we allow it? Why don't we stop using the word?” And when this future leader pointed out that “...society is changing, slowly, to be sure, but changing nevertheless..”, he stood tall among his peers and teachers as one of society’s change-makers.
If you want to read his speech or see the video clips of what a true advocate and change-maker looks like, go to the following links: