The R-word, “retard,” is slang for the term mental retardation. Mental retardation was what doctors, psychologists, and other professionals used to describe people with significant intellectual impairment.
Today the r-word has become a common word used by society as an insult for someone or something stupid. For example, you might hear someone say, “That is so retarded” or “Don’t be such a retard.” When used in this way, the r-word can apply to anyone or anything, and is not specific to someone with a disability. But, even when the r-word is not said to harm someone with a disability, it is hurtful.
Because of this, Special Olympics, Best Buddies and the greater disability community prefers to focus on people’s gifts and accomplishments, and to dispel negative attitudes and stereotypes. The purpose of the Spread the Word to End the Word® campaign is to raise people’s awareness of the derogatory use of the r-word and its negative effects on people with intellectual disabilities, as well as their families and friends. However, this campaign is about more than just raising awareness of the r-word. It is also about changing attitudes of segregation and hate, to attitudes of acceptance and respect.
What Will You Do to Spread the Word to End the Word?