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The use of the term "Retarded"

Someone on FB had posted an article from 1975 about how a group of high school students had raised enough money to buy a house for retarded people
I commented that the term makes me cringe. I realize that back then,it was a term that was widely used.
A guy made the comment that his kid is retarded,and that by my saying that I didn't like the term,I was somehow putting his kid down. Wait...what?
I mentioned that I have a kid with autism. Meaning,I know what it's like to have the term used in reference to my own child.
I'm not going to continue in that thread,but I'm dying to ask,"So if asked,you say your kid is retarded?" Who still uses that term? We've pretty much narrowed it down to what causes the retardation.Wouldn't a use of cognitively impaired sound better since retard is used in a derogatory manner?
Is this guy trying to use the N word defense? That it only gives strength to the negativity if you allow it to?


Asked by butterflyblue19 at 10:18 AM on Sep. 3, 2013 in Parenting Debate

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This question is closed.
Answers (18)
  • I don't understand it. Why would you use a word, ANY word, that you know is going to offend a whole bunch of people? Retarded is one of those words people know is offensive to a large population. I guess I'm just too caring and have too much tact!

    Answer by missanc at 10:23 AM on Sep. 3, 2013

  • I understand that "retard" used to be used to refer to special needs, but I don't feel it's appropriate anymore. Times have changed, and the use for the word has changed as well (negative connotation, using it as a slur of sorts, etc). When a professional word crosses over into slang, it's time to find another word, IMO. Especially when that slang is meant as a derogatory comment.

    The only way I'd use the word would be in its verb form (to delay or hold back in terms of progress, development, or accomplishment: ex: "I didn't mean to retard your progress"), and even then it would NOT be my first choice for wording.

    Answer by bandgeek521 at 11:05 AM on Sep. 3, 2013

  • I think, like other labels, 'retarded' started out as a neutral word, a simple adjective to describe mental delays or a person or group of people with delays. Over time, the word took on serious negative connotations and fell out of favor. We have labels today that are more specific to individual needs, and less likely to bring to mind the negative thoughts or feelings people associate with the word "retarded.' The problem over time is that eventually, the words we have now will take on the negative connotations, and we'll have to coin new ones. I once spoke of myself as 'blind' in a college class, and the professor informed me very pointedly, "We have other words by which we refer to those people nowadays." I told her that as long as we thought of human beings with differences of any kind as "those people", we'd have to keep coming up with new words by which to refer to them because the old ones would become tainted.

    Answer by Ballad at 11:08 AM on Sep. 3, 2013

  • I cringe when I hear that word too. My oldest has developmental & language delays. Yes, that takes a little longer to say, but in doing so, it let's you know what he struggles with, so you can interact with him appropriately. He can carry on a conversation. (he'll talk your ear off if it's about sports! :p) He can hold down a job (has had the same PT job for over 3 yrs now) He can take care of himself while I'm at work. Meaning, he can use the microwave to prepare a meal, shower & run the sweeper.

    Our local county board of Dev. Disabilities did away w/ that dreaded R word a few years ago. It used to be in their title. I wish it could be taken out of people's vocabulary just as easily.

    Answer by mrsmom110 at 10:26 AM on Sep. 3, 2013

  • I've never liked the word retarded, whether in joking or all seriousness!
    To me it's degrading.
    Whether a child OR adults have mental disabilities, it's focused on one core thing, not the being themselves.
    It's amazing how many "challenged" people in the world today, who are gifted in other areas. I see it everyday at work.

    People like him need to step back and see the "whole" person in order to see the greatness inside!

    Answer by KTElite at 10:27 AM on Sep. 3, 2013

  • ill admit, i sometimes use the word as an adjective, but i never, ever refer to people with special needs as retarded. i don't feel the use of the word as an adjective is any more offensive than calling someone an idiot, lame, moron, etc. all of those words were also derived to describe someone as "slow" or "not fully functioning" so if someone wanted to argue that those words are just as offensive as retarded, they could make a good case.

    Answer by tnm786 at 10:31 AM on Sep. 3, 2013

  • I think the term makes me cringe because it's used as an insult, and that's how it was used when I was growing up. Not on individuals that were actually labeled as such, but then the word was used to insult or offend people that others thought were acting strange or whatever.

    So then the question becomes, how can it be used as an insult to one, and not the other? 


    Answer by QuinnMae at 11:04 AM on Sep. 3, 2013

  • It's one of those words people use to show off their virtual penis - oh look, I said "retard" aren't I edgy and above it all, not caring about anyone else? Also known as head up the ass syndrome.

    Answer by NotPanicking at 11:42 AM on Sep. 3, 2013

  • Retard is used in auto lingo (as in to retard the timing on a vehicle). Other than that I think it's lazy to use the term in regards to humans. Developmentally disabled would be more appropriate, but not even that in some cases. Delayed maybe. I don't know. I just hate labels. It's just an easy way for people to not have to learn about others.


    Answer by QuinnMae at 10:22 AM on Sep. 3, 2013

  • The term was so widely used when I was growing up, mostly in place of "That sucks" as in "That's retarded" and a lot of people never even made the connection between special needs kids and just another word in their vocabulary. I see kids saying it all the time still.... My fiance still says it. Only because of cafemom does it make me look at him and go "Please don't say that".

    Answer by staciandababy at 11:44 AM on Sep. 3, 2013