As a parent of a young man with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), I have heard the hurtful words. Words that not even my son comprehends.
Let's Get Retarded in here
I'll never forget when on a family car trip to the white beaches of Destin, Florida we heard a new song from the Black Eyed Peas called "Let's get retarded." The year was 2003 or 2004. My son was about 6 years old. The song was an instant hit. A great sound, with an up-tempo beat. And Sam was rocking and singing "lets retard" over and over again. We didn't want to interrupt his joy, so we let the song play on while me, my wife, and Sam's older brother and sister listened in and watched Sam have fun.
Thankfully, shortly after release, the band re-recorded the hit, and changed the lyrics to "Let's get started." Same beat, same tune. Sam loved it and so did the family.
What's wrong with Sam?
Since then we have had more awkward moments. But this post isn't about scolding or shaming any one. It's about the irony of helping people understand people like Sam and feeling like you can't use words that are politically incorrect. Political correctness dictates that we refer to Sam as Intellectually and Developmentally Disabled. But if you're like most people you have no idea what that means.
In my experience, people yearn for more information. "What does that mean?" they will often ask. It means that Sam is mentally retarded. Which means in his case that he's functioning at the mental capacity of an 8-year old. Sam's retardation, or intellectual disability is classified as "moderate." About 10% of those who are diagnosed with an Intellectual and Developmental Disability (I/DD) are considered to be moderately impacted.
Moderate Mental Retardation
People with moderate intellectual disability have decent communication skills, but cannot typically communicate on complex levels. They may have difficulty in social situations and problems with social cues and judgment. People like Sam can care for themselves, even work independently, up to a point. However, they often require adult support, supervision and instruction. It's estimated that 500,000 people in the USA are moderately mentally retarded. Characteristics include the following:
IQ 35 to 49
Noticeable developmental delays (i.e. speech, motor skills)
May have physical signs of impairment (i.e. thick tongue)
Can communicate in basic, simple ways
Able to learn basic health and safety skills
Can complete self-care activities
Can travel alone to nearby, familiar places
My Home My Life
My Home My Life was founded to address the housing crisis faced by people that are intellectually and developmentally disabled, and to answer the question:
"Where will I live and who will take care of me after my parents have died?"
To learn more and to donate please visit www.myhomemylife.org