As a child in the '70s, I was called "retarded" by my peers. I'd run home from school crying as the kids shouted that word at my back. It seared itself into my ears and into my mind.View Story ▼As a child in the '70s, I was called "retarded" by my peers. I'd run home from school crying as the kids shouted that word at my back. It seared itself into my ears and into my mind. I would hit my head repeatedly on the floor, trying to get it out. Fast forward to 2014. I'm now 42 and my able-bodied, "normal" boyfriend uses "retarded" to describe himself when he fumbles the remote control with his non-dominate hand. Stunned, I ask him to repeat himself, and he utters "that word" again. He acts as if it's nothing and can't understand why it upsets me. I remind him what happened to me as a child and the effect it had--and still has. He says he use to get rocks thrown at him. I would have gladly taken the rocks, I say. Each time I was called "retarded," it felt like getting hit with ten rocks at once. The emotional pain never went away. I'd like to think the "r-word" would die if we didn't use it, but there are those who keep it alive. Yep, better rocks than words.
About Tania Coombes:I was born with physical impairments, but was intellectually "normal." My son has cerebral palsy and other challenges, but has so far been spared the cruelty I faced growing up. View less ▲