Addition By Subtraction – Let’s eliminate the ‘R’ word

Thursday, March 26, 2009
By Cary Shuman

There is an interesting story in this week’s Sun Transcript about the efforts of Winthrop special education teacher Chris Donnelly and Winthrop students to eliminate the word “retarded” from reference to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

This is not merely a matter of being “politically correct”. The term has become a throwaway, catch-all piece of verbiage that is a leftover from an era when little was known about disabilities and when little was done to help those who, by virtue of a roll of the dice at birth, face struggles of the sort that most of us cannot comprehend.

The Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation is now being called the Department of Development Services. Donnelly said the campaign to eradicate the word from usage is a message of respect and acceptance because the word is hurtful and painful to a good number of people in our society.

We urge any groups with such language in their titles to remove it forthwith. Mr. Donnelly has been a leader in special education who runs a first-class, highly commendable program at the high school with the strong support of WHS Principal Gail Conlon. The town is fortunate to have such a dedicated professional who has gone beyond the call of duty in his work, and we wish him good luck and our full support in his latest endeavor.

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