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Ableist Word Profile: Retarded

Ableist Word Profile: Retarded

Welcome to Ableist Word Profile, a (probably intermittent) series in which staffers will profile various ableist words, talk about how they are used, and talk about how to stop using them. Ableism is not feminism, so it’s important to talk about how to eradicate ableist language from our vocabularies. This post is marked 101, which means that the comments section is open to 101 questions and discussion. Please note that this post contains ableist language used for the purpose of discussion and criticism; you can get an idea from the title of the kind of ableist language which is going to be included in the discussion, and if that type of language is upsetting or triggering for you, you may want to skip this post.

Let’s start by looking at various definitions of the word, so we know what we’re talking about. “Retard” can be used as a verb, when it means “to make slow; delay the development or progress of (an action, process, etc.); hinder or impede.” It can also be used as an adjective, when it means “characterized by retardation,” which in turns means “slowness or limitation in intellectual understanding and awareness, emotional development, academic progress, etc.” Finally, it can be used as a noun, when it means “a mentally retarded person.” The word is disparaging and problematic primarily when used as an adjective or noun, so I’m not concerned with people who say things like “embalming mummies was a method of retarding decomposition over time.” Similarly, I’m not concerned with phrases like “fire-retardant pajamas.” I am, though, significantly concerned with people who use the term as a noun or adjective meant to disparage and insult a person, idea, or argument.

Etymologically, the word traces back to Latin roots retardationem, and retardare, meaning “to make slow, delay, keep back, hinder.” It’s the same root as “tardy,” meaning late. This first recorded instance of using the word to mean mentally slow didn’t occur until 1895, and use of the word as a disparaging insult didn’t occur until much later, one source saying the 1960s, another citing a book from the late 1950s where a character discussing Playboy magazine said “that Hefner jazz is for retarded jockstraps.” In either event, it’s a relatively recent development that the word is used to attack and disparage others. Coincidentally (or is it?), it was around the 1950s or 60s that the American medical profession began referring to the psychological condition as ‘mental retardation.’ Before then, the condition had been termed ‘mental deficiency,’ ‘feeble mindedness,’ or simply ‘idiocy.’

In current psychiatric practice, the term “mental retardation” is a medical definition, outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM). (Sorry I can’t link to this – am referring to my own copy. To my knowledge it’s not available in whole online.) The diagnosis requires an IQ score, but that is not the sole factor — it must be accompanied by significant limitations in adaptive functioning in the areas of communication, self-care, home living, social or interpersonal skills, self-direction, functional academic skills, work, leisure, health, and/or safety. Additionally, the onset must be before age 18. The DSM notes that individuals with mental retardation usually present with impairments in adaptive functioning – difficulty coping with the normal demands of life or meeting the standards of personal independence expected of someone in their particular age group and sociocultural background. An individual’s IQ score determines with which of the four subtypes of the disorder an individual will be diagnosed: mild (55-70), moderate (35-50), severe (20-35) and profound (below 20). About 85% of individuals diagnosed with the disorder are in the “mild” category. Importantly, the DSM notes that “no specific personality and behavioral features are uniquely associated with mental retardation.”

This medical definition is certainly not what’s intended in contemporary uses of the word. If I say “I saw Zombieland and it was totally retarded,” I am not saying that I think the movie had a low IQ and I observed significant limitations in adaptive functioning. (That doesn’t even make sense.) I am saying that I thought the movie was bad, uninteresting, boring, nonsensical, repetitive, and a waste of my time and money. But for me to mean any of those things by using the word “retarded,” I and the person to whom I’m speaking have to share the assumption that being retarded is bad and that people who have mental retardation are stupid, uninteresting, and a waste of my time. Similarly, if I say “LAPD Chief Bratton’s views on homeless policy are retarded,” I mean that they are poorly informed, poorly thought out, and will be ineffective. For me to mean that, the person to whom I’m speaking has to share the assumption that people with mental retardation are poorly informed, think poorly, and will be ineffective.

The term is used so broadly in contemporary conversation that usage is no longer based primarily on assumptions about specific behaviors of people who have mental retardation – just the general assumption that retardation is bad, something to be avoided, and things, ideas or people described as retarded should be excluded from the attention of non-retarded people. At this point, the connotation is simply “that’s bad and you should ignore it.” (See the Urban Dictionary entry for the term, which describes it as meaning “bad” in literally hundreds of different ways.) And that is ableist – using a word that not only describes but is the actual medical diagnosis of a mental disability to mean “bad and ignorable.” Using the term reinforces the implicit assumption that mental disabilities are bad and that people with mental disabilities should be excluded and ignored because of their disabilities. And that affects all people with mental disabilities, not just those diagnosed with mental retardation or another developmental disability. (Although it is especially difficult for family members of people with developmental disabilities.)

In the past year or so, I’ve been making an effort to eliminate this word from my vocabulary. And it’s hard. I hadn’t realized how common a word it is until I started paying attention to it, and then I saw it absolutely everywhere, and heard it come out of my own mouth. (I stop myself, apologize, and substitute another word.) There are movies like Tropic Thunder with whole plotlines about “going full retard.” Blogs use it with regularity. I guarantee that now that you’re aware of the word, you’ll notice it in more places than you ever imagined. You might want to consider reading more about or even supporting organizations trying to increase awareness of the word and encourage people and the media to find other words, such as The R Word Campaign and the My Words Matter Pledge.

Some alternative words: bad, awful, silly, poorly reasoned, dunder-headed, illogical, ineffective, inefficient, uninteresting, etc, etc.


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40 responses to “Ableist Word Profile: Retarded”

  1. Kat

    I absolutely catch myself using this word (and variations thereof), which is almost more embarrassing given how painfully aware I am of the importance of language. I am really trying to work on it. Thank you for the breakdown of exactly how and why this term (and others like it) are problematic.

    I have learned a lot from the conversations about ableism that have been taking place over the past week or two and your (collective) thoughts actually helped me in my grad school application essays, in which I discussed privilege awareness. I have been struck (which is to say, sickened) by the resistance to examining able privilege I’ve witnessed, especially among other feminists.
    .-= Kat´s last blog ..hey kat =-.

  2. romham

    Y’know whats funny is that ive been visiting this site since it started up and have been really enjoying these posts on ableist words, and feel like i know to expect that this will potentially happen…but i scrolled down and when i saw the Big Red Word, my stomach did a flip. i felt sick for a second. i hear this word used flippantly all over the place, i’ve been and am directly targeted with it, it carries such an intense hit. i wasnt expecting my reaction today though. i dont like it lol, but i do like this series, so thanks for keepin’ it going.

  3. Sweet Machine

    Hey, thanks for the link (and for this great post).

    Using the term reinforces the implicit assumption that mental disabilities are bad and that people with mental disabilities should be excluded and ignored because of their disabilities.

    I think this aspect–excluding and ignoring people with mental disabilities–also gets into why people are often confused/resistant to recognizing that “retarded” is offensive. I’ve seen the argument that it’s okay to say “retarded” because people who would be medically described that way aren’t smart enough to know that “retarded” refers to them. This is of course, untrue for most people with these disabilities, and it’s shockingly ignorant of the abled people who say it. It’s part of the same dehumanization process.
    .-= Sweet Machine´s last blog ..Friday Fluff: Longfellow Edition =-.

  4. meloukhia

    Yes, this, Sweet Machine; the infantalization of people with disabilities is used as a justification to continue infantalizing, excluding, and ignoring them. I think that’s called a “vicious cycle,” if I’m not mistaken. Additionally astounding/horrifying about this is that infantalization is applied to people at all levels of disability, with some able bodied people assuming that anyone with a visible disability isn’t “smart enough to know that [pejorative] refers to them.”

  5. Sweet Machine

    Absolutely; not only does it demean everyone with a visible disability, but it also collapses all disabilities into one big Other that you supposedly don’t have to worry about.
    .-= Sweet Machine´s last blog ..Friday Fluff: Longfellow Edition =-.

  6. meloukhia

    …thereby neatly relieving people of the need to take responsibility for their own hurtful actions!

  7. Shiyiya

    The webcomic Something Positive examines people’s reaction to people with visible disabilities some – the sister of the main character uses a walker because of injuries from a car accident and frequently has people assuming that she won’t be able to understand them. Just remembered that reading the comments.
    .-= Shiyiya´s last blog ..Livejournal =-.

  8. codeman38

    On the “blogs use it with regularity” note, this is one of the reasons why Cracked, as hilarious as their posts have sometimes been, is on my “gyaahhh” list at the same time. They seem to have a love affair with this particular pejorative.

    (Am I the only one, incidentally, who wants to go all Inigo Montoya on users of said word and say “you keep using that word; I do not think it means what you think it means”? :-p)

  9. kaninchenzero

    It does mean what they think it does. They mean ‘a person with a developmental disability, a learning disability, a condition such as cerebral palsy, or in the manner thereof.’ Which is obviously objectively a bad thing. It’s just like “Oh we don’t mean ‘gay’ in the sense of ‘bad’ as ‘homosexual,’ we just mean ‘bad’” is bullshit: if y’all don’t mean homosexual men, how come cocksucker is often in such close proximity? Similarly, other disparaging remarks about people with developmental disabilities or ghastly mockeries often accompany uses of the word ‘retarded’ in the perjorative sense.

    We don’t object because we think they don’t know what they’re saying. Frankly, it’s insulting that they think we’re stupid enough to believe the obfuscatory bullshittery.

  10. codeman38

    @kaninchenzero: Ah, good point. And now that you mention it, I’ve seen several other blogs use other terms for people with developmental disabilities as insults. ::sigh::

    And now I wish I had a more appropriate snarky quote to throw these sorts of people’s way.

  11. kaninchenzero

    My condolences, codeman38. It is an eminently quotable movie.

  12. Johnny

    As per word usage, “retard” is also used in French when you wish to late, and is said “en retard”. I have only heard it used related to time (ie.when someone shows up late etc.), not related to any mental developlement.

  13. kaninchenzero

    Johnny, is it something that a person is called? Or does it refer only to the lateness?

  14. Ouyang Dan

    I quite honestly am not sure what you are asking/saying here, Johnny. Your statement is like saying that musical scores are being ableist for the use of the Italian term Ritardando, to slow down/becoming slower, which instructs player/singer that the tempo is about to do just that. We are obviously talking about pejorative usages of the word as it is understood in English. If you are asking if we are aware of pejorative usages in other languages, then I would have to ask a speaker of those languages, as I am no longer a sufficient speaker of French (and even then, I spoke only passable Quebecois, not European French). In Mandarin Chinese (a language I am intimately familiar with) the word, “?” (jian, third tone), means “to retard or slow down”, and no where in my studies, or in any lexical aid at my disposal am I able to find any reference to either a medical diagnosis (they refer to it as “developmentally slowed”) or any type of pejorative similar to our use of it here (and I have some great dictionaries). That doesn’t mean that the Invisible Pink Unicorn isn’t pink…just that I am not a concise person or a native speaker, and that I am not sure what your point is.

    ETA: Apparently our comments are not able to handle my typing of Chinese characters (dang it!). It didn’t work w/ my Wen Lin program or my font editor on my laptop. 80 Apologies that you can not see the word I am referring to.

    Also ETA: I should also have said that IIRC, en retarde is similar to a teacher telling a student they are tardy when they arrive five minutes late for class. But, it could be different than I remember.

  15. Sasha_feather

    This post has been included in a linkspam at access_fandom.
    Thank you!

  16. mischiefmanager

    Ok, so just to clarify, Abby Jean, is retarded a term that you would accept in a medical/diagnostic context?

    It’s funny (or not)-this must be a generational thing. When I was growing up it was a commonly used insult, but over time it was made clear to us that it was not acceptable to use it, and rightly so. Now in my kids’ generation (young 20′s) it’s back. Maybe we can get rid of it for good this time.

  17. Tera

    Hi, abbyjean and mischiefmanager,

    While no group of people is a monolith, yes, many self-advocates who’ve been labeled with mental retardation have spoken out against the phrase.
    Dave Hingsburger has written about a woman who came into his office and saw a journal on his desk with “Mental Retardation” in its title. She told him how hurtful those words were to her. Unfortunately, my Google-fu is failing me and I can’t find the post.

    The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) changed its name from the American Association on Mental Retardation partly because, as Dave Reynolds reported in The Ragged Edge:

    “[AAIDD President Valerie] Bradley said that efforts toward changing the name were primarily driven from the self-advocacy movement by people who had lived with the label of ‘mentally retarded’ or ‘mental retardation.’

    ‘Self-advocates don’t like the term ‘retardation’ because it is so heavily weighted in stigma,’ she explained. “

    The website for People First of California (a group of and for self-advocates) uses the phrase “developmental disabilities.”

    The website for Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) uses “self-advocates” and “people with disabilities.”

    The website for LiveWorkPlay uses the phrase “intellectual disabilities.” (I’m not sure of any of their Board of Directors are self-advocates, self-advocates make many of their videos and films, perhaps all of them).

    Finally, Terri of Barriers, Bridges and Books (who is a nurse) writes in Spread the Word to End The Word: Clinically Speaking:

    Clinicians (with some notable exceptions), on the other hand, are dragging their heels and harrumphing and wondering aloud whether such changes are necessary or wise…

    Change already.

    Why?

    Because the people we exist to SERVE have asked us to. They assure us that those words hurt them.

    That is enough of a reason.

    We medical professionals are in danger at all times of abusing the status and power that our expertise gives us–here is an opportunity to remember that it was NEVER about us!

    [...]

    So, in the interest of being responsive on language issues I recently asked a few of my self-advocate friends which terms they preferred. I suggested Intellectual Disability, Cognitive Disability or Developmental Disability.

    One of my friends thought ‘Intellectual Disability’ was code for ‘stupid.’ But everyone pretty much thought all of the terms were neutral. And then one of my friends dropped a bombshell on me…

    “Why do you need any label at all?” she asked.

    That question has been ringing in my head ever since… As a nurse NO LABELS makes me very nervous. How would I categorize? How would I treat? How would I evaluate? Where would I begin? How would I…. the questions go on and on….

    Yeah, I would have to base decisions on the individual. I would have to evaluate based on the actual–to wait and see how the person actually presents. I would have to base everything on relationship…

    And dang if all those don’t sound like GOOD things…

    But yes, there are self-advocates who don’t like the clinical use of the term.
    .-= Tera´s last blog ..New blog of awesomeness =-.

  18. LeeLee

    When I was a kid, if someone referred to someone as “retarded,” it was meant in the clinical sense, even if they weren’t being nice. In other words, it wasn’t a generic insult. I have much younger brothers – one still in high school – and our age differences are enough that we use language differently. The way that they and others use “retarded” today is more generic. My brothers didn’t realize that it had once been a form of the appropriate term for forms of various disabilities. They grew up hearing different clinical terms, such as “cognitively impaired,” “developmentally delayed,” etc. This doesn’t excuse the use of “retarded,” but I found the distinction interesting. For people my brothers’ age, the insult doesn’t have the sting it did when I was a kid.

    My husband, much to his own shame and embarrassment, found himself using “retarded” when describing situations that were screwed up (fortunately, not to describe people). It’s a word that is pervasive in his work culture, and it wormed its way in to his speech years ago. I helped him break the habit – I had him substitute the word “leotard” or “leotarded.” It has those satisfying hard consonants that are also what make swear words so cathartic to say, but the word itself is absurd in almost any context. It’s that absurdity that highlighted when he was saying “retarded,” and he was able to quit altogether. Dan Savage deserves the credit for the use of “leotard.”

    Another word that’s being used to death as an insult right now that makes me scratch my head is “douche” and all its colorful variants. As a feminist, I bristle for obvious reasons, but mostly I laugh to myself. I’m fairly sure most people saying “douchebag” don’t know what one was/is, and the idea of that as an insult is just bizarre to me. And it also has a perfectly innocuous French cognate.

  19. kitrona

    Re: the use of the word “douche” and “douchebag”: I can only speak for myself, but I don’t have a problem with them because douches are not healthy (as far as I’m aware). I am, of course, open to correction on that.

    Re: the article, I’m weeding out lots of words! I’m not complaining, as finding alternatives is interesting and fun for me, as well as being more accurate. I was just wondering if there was a “pledge” site that covered all of them, as I don’t see any of them being any more or less deserving of scrutiny.

    I’d do it myself but I have no idea how to.

  20. romham

    re: “douche” and “douchebag”, i only use the term if i have added an “anal” at the beginning. Almost everyone’s got an asshole, and there’s no sexist undercurrent. Done and done.

  21. ModernWizard

    Thank you so much for this. I find the misuse of “retarded” everywhere and it really pisses me off.
    .-= ModernWizard´s last blog ..7.2: “Sympathy for Sibley” =-.

  22. Jha

    I was thinking about this, and then I picked up on “flame retardant”, and I thought, “would ‘intellect-retardant’ be okay?”

    LeeLee: May I ask what your problem with the term “douche” as an insult is?
    .-= Jha´s last blog ..Steampunking: Are Steampunk Westerns Non-Eurocentric? No =-.

  23. Ouyang Dan

    A douche is a product marketed to women because we have been told that our girly parts are smelly and that we should be ashamed of that smell. We are supposed to flush it out w/ the Holy Water of douche, which in actuality is something that is harmful and damaging to the vagina and really fucks up the Ph balance of things in there. Hence, the term “douche” or “douchebag”, is a great insult to someone who is towing the patriarchal line, or being otherwise anti-feminist. Douches themselves were designed to be sexist, so they can be used as an insult to someone who is aiming to be sexist or harmful to women.

    That is enough derail.

  24. meloukhia

    Jha, abby jean addressed the “flame retardant” issue in her first paragraph; “retardant” is a tricky word because it shares the same root as “retarded,” but it’s used in a different sense. When something is said to be retardant, it means that it slows or delays development. Something marked “flame retardant” will literally “slow flame,” and the word doesn’t have an ableist context in this sense. We’re concerned with “retard/retarded” in reference to people. Saying “intellect retardant” wouldn’t make sense grammatically exactly, and it would also definitely not be ok, because it would be using the “r word” in reference to a person. “Developmentally delayed” would be a more appropriate term to use.

  25. amandaw

    FTR, I *do* have a problem when people use the word “retard[ed/s]” in the sense of, say, economic growth — not directed at people, but still using the same word with the same literal root meaning. I do not like it, never have liked it, and am never gonna like it, because to me “retard” and all derivatives are words that are so intensely hateful and carry such a huge weight of oppression that even supposedly-innocuous related words are tainted, and to use them when we are still fighting that oppression — it’s not in our past yet, not nearly — when people still use “retarded” as in “like the retarded people, therefore bad” … feeding that monster is not something I feel comfortable with.

    Not everyone feels this way, and I understand that. ‘s just my own opinion. But I would definitely say that abled folk would be better off to just give up the damn words altogether, because there are plenty of others that convey the same meaning without that same hatred … the scales tip so far in favor of “just ditch the words” over “safe enough to continue using” that it’s not even a question for me.

    People with developmental disabilities who use that word in a reclamatory way? That is fine with me, and I understand it, similarly with crip/cripple, gimp, etc. But that means those people ONLY. That does NOT give anyone else rights to use those words — ever — in any sense. “This person uses this hateful word reclamatively, trying to override the negative history, therefore I can continue using the word completely in line with the negative history this person is trying to overcome” doesn’t even make any damn sense.

  26. codeman38

    @LeeLee: Y’know, I think you’ve hit on something interesting. I wonder if my own visceral reaction to That Word is because of the time period in which I was growing up– when I was a kid, the word ‘retarded’ was still quite often used clinically in academic literature.

    I almost want to do a literature review now to see when clinical use started shifting to other terms, and how that correlates with my years of schooling.

  27. Tera

    Hi, codeman38,

    I almost want to do a literature review now to see when clinical use started shifting to other terms, and how that correlates with my years of schooling.

    Ooh, that would be fun. (But then, I would say that: I’m a total word geek ;) ).

    My mom says that when she was a kid (in the 60s), she and her friends used That Word in the ableist way. (“That is so __,” “You’re such a __,” etc).
    .-= Tera´s last blog ..Rosemary =-.

  28. codeman38

    Funny thing is, I was a kid in the ’80s, but there was still plenty of clinical literature using the term then… though I know it was also being used as an insult around that era. I guess that was the period when neuropsychologists were just starting to use different terms because the insulting use had become widespread enough.

  29. bzzzzgrrrl

    @mischiefmanager (and others who talk about generational divides): This is what my cousin describes as “rehabilitation via irony.” I feel like there are a lot of expressions like this (he first mentioned it to me as we discussed “crying like a little girl”). Somebody, usually a comic, uses an old sexist, racist, homophobic, ableist catch phrase like that, in a context where he or she believes it’s universally understood to be sexist, racist, homophobic, ableist, and suddenly it’s an “OK” phrase. Some people use it ironically, but others, not so much, and eventually, the culture is unaware that it was theoretically ironic.

    I’m in my late 30s, and grew up understanding that “retarded” as a pejorative was not acceptable; I am shocked at how often I hear it from younger friends, who are often genuinely surprised to hear that I am not OK with their usage.
    .-= bzzzzgrrrl´s last blog ..On to more serious matters… =-.

  30. Jha

    @meloukhia: Ah, I think it just doesn’t communicate well in the first reading then. “Flame-retardant” makes sense because it is designed to, basically, hold down / diminish flames. Where I was going with “intellect-retardant” is a similar vein as “flame-retardant” – i.e., someone saying something so ridiculous, it’s hurting other people’s brains from thinking properly, thus hampering intellect. It wouldn’t be a reflection on the person’s own intelligence, but on what they are doing to other people.

    But clearly it just didn’t come through, so it’s vocabulary fail from me. I just wanted something to throw people who use the word “retarded” in an ableist way for a loop.
    .-= Jha´s last blog ..Ally Issues: Feeling Useless =-.

  31. Lauren

    I was able to cut “retarded” out of my vocabulary by giving myself the alternative “rondo,” which I stole from Natalie Dee. I don’t use that much these days, either, since most people don’t know what it means, but I did it long enough to break the “retarded” habit. Anyone have thoughts on the ramifications of using substitute nonsense words? I can imagine it not helping at all, e.g. if people who don’t understand how “retard” is problematic end up using it to insult people with disabilities.
    .-= Lauren´s last blog ..So about that online writing conference… =-.

  32. meloukhia

    Dan Savage is a perambulating hatbox if ever there was one. He started the “leotarded” thing when someone called him out on “retarded” and it’s clearly meant to retain the exact same connotations.

    I think nonsense words are one alternative, but so is coming up with colourful insults which don’t incorporate sexism/ableism/etc. These are also easier to understand; if you use a nonsense word, people will ask why, etc etc.

  33. Tera

    I second Dan Savage’s perambulating hatboxery. In the column where he gets called out (That’s So Leotarded), his response is dripping with “Those PC police are being totally ridiculous. I’m gonna say what I want and not care who I hurt.”
    .-= Tera´s last blog ..Rosemary =-.

  34. Mary

    On behalf of my daughter who lives with an intellectual disability, I thank you for this. I’ve been an advocate against the use of the word retard and retarded for quite a while. I don’t think I’ve seen it written about as clearly as you have. It goes right to the heart. Now how to get the biggest offenders in Hollywood to hear you (that would be you Bill Maher and Ben Stiller).

  35. Travis

    I, too, have been surprised at the upsurge in popularity of retard/retarded. It was a common insult when I was a kid in the early ’80s, but then I didn’t hear it at all until recently, when all of a sudden everyone online seemed to be using it. I think whoever mentioned ironic usage above is right. I hate hipster irony.

  36. siwangmu

    Not sure if this will be helpful to anyone else, but when the internet started infiltrating my brain and I found myself, to my horror, starting to reach for this word in the “That’s ___” sense (like “that plot-twist was completely ____”) I was able to fairly easily switch it out for “ridiculous.” It’s a slangy usage, since sometimes I just think it’s terrible and not particularly funny, but I like it, because “worthy of ridicule” is usually close to what I mean in that situation, anyway.

    Bonus: You have an entire syllable to catch yourself and switch!
    Effort required: practically none.
    Impairment of meaning or expressive ability: none that I can see, unless you really needed to impress people on 4chan for some reason.
    Fun to say: totally! “That decision was FREAKING RIDICULOUS.”

    Can even be used for people, even more slangily, i.e. “It sounds, from the above comments, like this Dan Savage guy is freaking ridiculous.”

  37. AWV

    I’m fond of Dan Savage but I thought he was being a jerk in that column.

    In terms of calling people retarded as a neutral term for their disability, I want to say it’s a regional thing, but I’m not even sure that’s true. Where I go to school in Ohio, the organizations for developmentally disabled people are usually called Mental Retardation and Developmental Disability. I also met a kid from Boston who said, “My sister is retarded.” In New York they usually say intellectual disability; organizations like the AHRC don’t spell out their acronym anywhere on their website, because it contains a word that they now consider offensive.

    I wish it was okay to use the word retarded to describe people who have intellectual disabilities, because then when someone says “Zombieland was retarded” you can just say, “I have friends who are retarded and they’re not anything like Zombieland.” But it’s a pretty harsh word at this point and I understand intellectually disabled people just don’t want to be associated with it anymore.

    I don’t like when people us developmental disability as a substitute for ID/MR, because DD covers more ground than ID/MR. I have a developmental disability and I’m not intellectually disabled. In addition to autism, I’m pretty sure cerebral palsy is also considered a developmental disability, so when people say “developmentally disabled” to mean intellectual disability/MR, I feel like they’re erasing people with ASD and CP.


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