Tomorrow, March 7, 2018 is "Spread the Word" Day. The word this campaign is working to eradicate is the word 'retard(ed)'. The R-word hurts because it is exclusive. It's offensive. It's derogatory. The "Spread the Word" campaign asks people to pledge to stop saying the R-word as a starting point toward creating more accepting attitudes and communities for all people. We love the message and hashtag #Respect that the campaign has chosen to represent its push for ending use of the word. As an individual who has been hurt by this language, Ethan shares his perspective on why this conversation is important for everyone to join.
The r-word can make my blood boil. Borderline psychotic rage. All the careless use of it slays me. If students tossed around the n-word in the same way, it would likely get them suspended. So naturally I have a vested interest in this word disappearing as someone who has needed special education services. Too often special becomes a replacement for retarded. So what the issue seems to center on is not necessarily language but a culture of respect.
Maybe this month all our schools should rock out to Aretha and start conversations finding out what #respect means to each other.
Reach Every Voice is preparing for April (a month highlighting autism) by spreading the joint messages of acceptance, respect, and presuming competence. Check out our shirts here. All proceeds benefit REV AccessAbility, a 501c3 charity dedicated to providing communication supports to those with limited or unreliable speaking abilities.
Ethan Tucker is a 15-year-old autistic high school student in Maryland who communicates the importance of presuming competence one letter at a time. Always, alway