Home > Autism > My son is not retarded. He has autism.

My son is not retarded. He has autism.

Lucas is 14 and takes a private bus to a special school. The school is a mere 10 min drive from our condo, but the school transport picks him up 45 mins before school starts (which is better than the one hour they originally wanted which I fought against.)

This morning, the school bus arrived about 5 minutes early, and the driver wanted the security guard at our condo to call up to our apartment to notify us. Before the guard (who is relatively new) could do so, I’d already walked Lucas down to the waiting area. After making sure Lucas was safely buckled and watching the bus drive off, I started to return to my apartment whereby the guard came to inform me of the driver’s earlier request. I explained that the driver was early and in future, to just ask that he wait by the porch.

All of a sudden, the guard said, “Don’t be offended but it appears to me that your son is a little retarded.” He was quick to add though that my “son was not as bad as the other boy on the bus with him.”

“He is not retarded,” I told him rather shortly. “He has autism.” And I walked off.

Usually when I tell people of Lucas’ autism, I would elaborate on the disorder, what the signs and symptoms are, treatments available etc. But I wasn’t in the mood to do so this morning.

Somehow the word ‘retarded’ rubs me off the wrong way. I feel that it is such a derogatory term, and even if it wasn’t directed to me or a loved one , I tend to cringe when others hurl it as an insult to another (usually quite normal person).

Did I overact? Did I just miss out of an opportunity to educate someone about autism?

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  1. January 27, 2011 at 2:27 am

    Your reaction was more than appropriate. It was none of that guard’s business.

  2. January 28, 2011 at 12:55 am

    I think I would have done the same as you
    I suppose some supermom ( not me ) would have utilised the opportunity to educate — but its hard to think like that when we are hurting for our kiddos
    The word retarded has become offensive as its used as an insult in our culture
    My friend’s son who has Downs talked to me about how offensive the word was to her and so Imake sure to tell people not to use it

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