The R Word

Let’s talk about the “R” word.

I hate this word. I hate that this word has become a norm for people to use, whether intentionally or jokingly.

The R word is hurtful. The R word is mean.

We’ve all said it. I’ve said it.

Before I had Gracy, I was guilty of using this word as a way of lazily describing my feelings…how I felt about something or how I felt about someone.

This all changed for me eight years ago. At 30 weeks (I think) pregnant, I was told there was something unusual about Gracys ultrasound. I had to go to St. Louis and have a better look inside and see what was going on. They told me she could be born with either Down Syndrome, Cystic Fibrosis, or that maybe her butthole wasn’t formed correctly.

One of the scariest moments of my life. But it changed me. When Gracy was two and we started therapy in all developmental areas, it changed me.

When she was four and was diagnosed with Autism, it changed me. Gracy changed me. Not because of her diagnosis, but because of who she is.

Having a child with special needs opens your eyes and ears to a world you never knew existed. It softens your heart. You experience a whole new level of kindness and compassion you didn’t even know you were capable of. It gives you a whole new outlook on life.

I haven’t always had the mindset I do now. I used to be judgemental. I used to make mean jokes to people in the hallways or lunchroom. But having Gracy really did change me. She opened my heart to a kind of love that I really didn’t know was possible.

And if you’ve ever met Gracy, you would know what I’m talking about. She has so much life and love in her little body and it is contagious!

The R word never effected me until Gracy. The first time I heard it after having her, it made me feel so powerless. My heart sank and I fought back the tears. It hurt. Even now, it still hurts.

It hurts when people make the “short bus” jokes. It hurts when people make the “wear your helmet” or “licking the windows” jokes. It hurts when I hear people say “that’s retarded”

But how could I make people stop using the R word? How could I change this? How do I make sure my daughter never has to sit at a table silently listening to someone making hurtful comments? How do I keep my daughter from being punished for something she was born with?

I help by raising awareness. I let people know their comments are hurtful. That these words we throw around so casually have an impact. They impact the little girl who has to hear them. They impact the family who has to bear the weight of them. They impact the next generation of children who have to hear their parents use them.

I’m a voice who helps the voiceless. I teach my kids to be good friends and good human beings. One of the rules in my house for my girls, and the neighborhood kids too, is to BE NICE. And they’ll tell you that.

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me…WRONG! Words hurt. Words have an impact on people, especially children, whether you realize it or not.

Be nice. Be kind. Be loving. Be a good human being.

Written by, Sarah Deason

You can follow Sarah on Facebook at Life with Gracy.

Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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