Honest question re: "retarded" — The Bump
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Honest question re: "retarded"

When IS it appropriate to say "retarded"? I noticed some of you mentioned it was okay if referring to a dx, but would never use that as a term to define an individual's disability/handicap. If someone had a handicap, I would refer directly to that issue (ie, "My cousin has Down's Syndrome" or "My uncle was born with hydrocephalus") instead of saying they were mentally retarded. The only time I have ever seen it used that didn't offend me was in scientific journals that were referring to retarded growth patterns (in plants or whatever) related to various experiments.

I don't know if I am necessarily politically correct either, though.

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Re: Honest question re: "retarded"

  • Pioneer Woman calls her brother "My retarded brother, Mike."  on her blog.

    IIRC, she asked him if it was ok for her to call him that and he said yes. 

    That's really the only example I can think of where using the word retarded in a non-clinical setting doesn't make me cringe.

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  • I honestly don't think it's PC in any instance.
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  • Mental retardation is an official DSM-IV diagnosis with varying levels.  There is profound, severe, moderate and mild mental retardation which is typically based on valid IQ scores.  So if you are referring to a person with a diagnosis of mental retardation that would be the only appropriate way in which to use it.
  • imageFezzesAreCool:

    Pioneer Woman calls her brother "My retarded brother, Mike."  on her blog.

    IIRC, she asked him if it was ok for her to call him that and he said yes. 

    That's really the only example I can think of where using the word retarded in a non-clinical setting doesn't make me cringe.

    I don't read her blog. Is he handicapped? Or is she just poking fun?

    To me, the second instance would be offensive. The first, while I don't like it, would probably be understandable since he gave the "OK".

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  • I think there are enough words in the English language to use instead of this one. I would just choose a different word.
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  • imagekbingram51:
    imageFezzesAreCool:

    Pioneer Woman calls her brother "My retarded brother, Mike."  on her blog.

    IIRC, she asked him if it was ok for her to call him that and he said yes. 

    That's really the only example I can think of where using the word retarded in a non-clinical setting doesn't make me cringe.

    I don't read her blog. Is he handicapped? Or is she just poking fun?

    To me, the second instance would be offensive. The first, while I don't like it, would probably be understandable since he gave the "OK".

    He's actually mentally disabled. 

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  • I think it's appropriate where it is used as a technical term or a term of art - meaning it is generally used and accepted in that field to have a particular meaning.

    I believe in some states, the term "mental retardation" (or possibly "mentally retarded") is used, possibly even in statutes, to describe whether an individual may or may not be eligible for the death penalty. In those cases, there is a specific statute that defines the term (usually based on an IQ score). 

    It may also be used in scientific documents as a verb (i.e., growth is retarded, meaning that growth is slowed or delayed) to describe a rate of physical change unrelated to mental capacity. If *I* were a scientist, I would personally choose to use another term, like "slowed" or "delayed," simply to avoid the word.  

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  • How exactly did pioneer woman become so big?  Her recipes are anything but spectacular and listening to her talk is just torture
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  • I always thought that the term mentally retarded referred to a lower IQ.  Mentally (mind) retard (slow).  I think cognitively disabled is the term used more in school settings, although the other might be used in medical fields???
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  • imagekbingram51:

    When IS it appropriate to say "retarded"? I noticed some of you mentioned it was okay if referring to a dx, but would never use that as a term to define an individual's disability/handicap. If someone had a handicap, I would refer directly to that issue (ie, "My cousin has Down's Syndrome" or "My uncle was born with hydrocephalus") instead of saying they were mentally retarded. The only time I have ever seen it used that didn't offend me was in scientific journals that were referring to retarded growth patterns (in plants or whatever) related to various experiments.

    I don't know if I am necessarily politically correct either, though.

    Now, if I was actually referring to someone with a mental disability, I would refer to him/her in regards to thier actual diagnosed condition.

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  • I guess it would be okay in a clinical setting for certain disorders and syndromes, but I don't think that it's even used in the clinical sense anymore.

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  • imagerobinsokj:
    How exactly did pioneer woman become so big?  Her recipes are anything but spectacular and listening to her talk is just torture

    I loved the story of how she hooked up with her husband.  It was nice to read a love story that wasn't full of gratuitous sex. 

    Her chocolate cake is f'ucking delicious. 

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  • imageNY Mama:
    Mental retardation is an official DSM-IV diagnosis with varying levels.  There is profound, severe, moderate and mild mental retardation which is typically based on valid IQ scores.  So if you are referring to a person with a diagnosis of mental retardation that would be the only appropriate way in which to use it.

    Thank you. I didn't know if people were still being diagnosed as "mentally retarded" or if doctors were choosing to identify causes of retardation.

    My grandmother, who is a little backwards in the PC world, will refer to anyone with any kind of mental handicap as "So-and-so, you know, the one who's a little retarted, did such and such". But she's also pretty backwoods and will identify people racially as well. She and I have had MANY discussions about her use of the word "colored" and how it is offensive. So I try not to follow her examples on pretty much anything.

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  • imagegsteph88:
    If you are talking musical terms.

    What?

  • imageTunaTown:
    imagekbingram51:

    When IS it appropriate to say "retarded"? I noticed some of you mentioned it was okay if referring to a dx, but would never use that as a term to define an individual's disability/handicap. If someone had a handicap, I would refer directly to that issue (ie, "My cousin has Down's Syndrome" or "My uncle was born with hydrocephalus") instead of saying they were mentally retarded. The only time I have ever seen it used that didn't offend me was in scientific journals that were referring to retarded growth patterns (in plants or whatever) related to various experiments.

    I don't know if I am necessarily politically correct either, though.

    Now, if I was actually referring to someone with a mental disability, I would refer to him/her in regards to thier actual diagnosed condition.

    I usually only refer to a diagnosed condition if I was going to talk about something related to their condition. Otherwise, I refer to them by their name or title (my uncle, brother, etc.). So it's not something I would use often.

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  • I use that word only when referring to the timing of a car engine.
    "To me, you are perfect."
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  • imageKJmashup:
    I use that word only when referring to the timing of a car engine.

    I've heard this, and its use musically, as well.

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  • imageLoisLane23:

    Officially, it is never ok to say someone is mentally retarded. The condition they have is mental retardation.

    Same with autism. A person is not "autistic". They have autism.

    Can you explain further? I' dont think I see the difference, except semantics.

    Mentally retarded is an adverb and a verb, mental retardation are 2 nouns--2 things. 

     

  • I would say that it generally isn't. Even if you're referring to a dx, the preferred term is cognitive impairment, cognitively impaired, etc. 

    Speaking as a mother of a child with SN (autism) who may or may not be cognitively impaired (IQ tests are tricky at these ages), I would NEVER use mentally retarded in speaking of her or anyone with a disability. And I'd correct anyone who did. 

    Even if it's still in DSM, most clinicians and people in the SN community use cognitive impairment, is a correct term and more neutral term, without the inflammatory/derogatory history that comes with "retarded". 

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  • If someone is diagnosed with mental retardation (as a condition or a result of a condition) or you are referring to growth, for example. Or engine retarder brakes.

    Funny story: Demented used to be the cool thing to say when I was a teen, "ugh that's soooo demented" insert Clueless sneer and eyeroll. A couple years ago my sister refered to a patient as demented. I never knew demented meant they suffered from dementia and thought she was being super rude.

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  • imagelite-bright:

    I would say that it generally isn't. Even if you're referring to a dx, the preferred term is cognitive impairment, cognitively impaired, etc. 

    Speaking as a mother of a child with SN (autism) who may or may not be cognitively impaired (IQ tests are tricky at these ages), I would NEVER use mentally retarded in speaking of her or anyone with a disability. And I'd correct anyone who did. 

    Even if it's still in DSM, most clinicians and people in the SN community use cognitive impairment, is a correct term and more neutral term, without the inflammatory/derogatory history that comes with "retarded". 

    Thank you for your perspective. I try to avoid all use of the word itself. But many people I know still refer to individuals with cognitive impairment as "mentally retarded" and I didn't know if I would be incorrect in correcting them.

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  • Semantics change everything, though. Saying a child with autism indicates the child has more than just autism, s/he has curly hair, blue eyes, a great sense of humor. You wouldn't define others by a diagnosis- you wouldn't say "That kid's a cancer kid" It makes a big big difference to the parents.
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  • imageLoisLane23:
    imageMrsMommyQ:
    imageLoisLane23:

    Officially, it is never ok to say someone is mentally retarded. The condition they have is mental retardation.

    Same with autism. A person is not "autistic". They have autism.

    Can you explain further? I' dont think I see the difference, except semantics.

    Mentally retarded is an adverb and a verb, mental retardation are 2 nouns--2 things. 

     

    Mental retardation is what a person has, not what they are.

    I get that, but for me they are pretty closely intertwined. I have a daughter, therefore I AM a mother. It's not the only thing I am, but it IS something that I am.

     

     

  • I would only use it if I knew it was an official medical diagnosis. Like then I might say "she has been diagnosed with mild mental retardation." I don't consider it offensive if it's describing a valid diagnosis in non-derogatory terms.
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  • Lurker here..... In the educational setting, it is referred to as cognitive impairment. I think you would lose all credibility if you referred to a student any level of retardation ( referring to a previous post).

      Also, when you say "a person who has autism" it referres to a characteristic of that person, rather than defining who they are...."autistic".  That is how it has been explained to me and I can respect that view. 

  • imagegsteph88:
    imageNY Mama:

    imagegsteph88:
    If you are talking musical terms.

    What?

    Retard means to slacken the tempo. She asked when is it appropriate to use the term. :P  

    Lol, I think that version of the word is spelled with an i.  

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  • imageLoisLane23:
    imageMrsMommyQ:
    imageLoisLane23:

    Officially, it is never ok to say someone is mentally retarded. The condition they have is mental retardation.

    Same with autism. A person is not "autistic". They have autism.

    Can you explain further? I' dont think I see the difference, except semantics.

    Mentally retarded is an adverb and a verb, mental retardation are 2 nouns--2 things. 

     

    Mental retardation is what a person has, not what they are.

    We deal with this a lot where I work.  For example, you wouldn't say "my neighbour is cancerous."  You would say, "my neighbour who has cancer."

    So the same should go for all illnesses, physical or mental.

     

     



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  • MR is a diagnosis, according to my paper work I do for IEPs. 


  • imageAlexKate45:
    We deal with this a lot where I work.  For example, you wouldn't say "my neighbour is cancerous."  You would say, "my neighbour who has cancer."

    So the same should go for all illnesses, physical or mental.

    Thanks. This is the best way to explain this that I've ever seen. I've always understood it myself, but struggled to explain it to others. But you're correct that we don't say people are cancerous, and I think everyone can understand why not. 
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  • imageLoisLane23:

    imageKJmashup:
    I use that word only when referring to the timing of a car engine.

    You are so hot.

    *bats eyelashes at LoisLane* 

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  • imageRayRay007:

    If someone is diagnosed with mental retardation (as a condition or a result of a condition) or you are referring to growth, for example. Or engine retarder brakes.

    Funny story: Demented used to be the cool thing to say when I was a teen, "ugh that's soooo demented" insert Clueless sneer and eyeroll. A couple years ago my sister refered to a patient as demented. I never knew demented meant they suffered from dementia and thought she was being super rude.

    Pretty much every term we use to insult someone's intelligence was at one time the medical term for cognitive impairment (or some other mental disorder) - idiot, imbicile, etc. But those "medical" terms get hijacked, just like "mentally retarded" did, and get used as insults and become un-pc (and of course, fall out of favor as more specifice and scientific diagnoses are developed).

    imageimage
  • imageNY Mama:
    Mental retardation is an official DSM-IV diagnosis with varying levels.  There is profound, severe, moderate and mild mental retardation which is typically based on valid IQ scores.  So if you are referring to a person with a diagnosis of mental retardation that would be the only appropriate way in which to use it.

    I've been told the feds have switched to "developmental disability". Some of the older rules haven't been changed, but going forward. Some people prefer "intellectual disability". My son with autism meets the qualifications for "developmental disability" but he is not mentally retarded.

  • imageNY Mama:
    Mental retardation is an official DSM-IV diagnosis with varying levels.  There is profound, severe, moderate and mild mental retardation which is typically based on valid IQ scores.  So if you are referring to a person with a diagnosis of mental retardation that would be the only appropriate way in which to use it.

    I had a sister who passed away a long time ago that was severely mentally retarded.  When I have occasion to speak about her, I refer to her condition as such.  It is how my family has always referred to her condition.  It does make me cringe when someone uses it to refer to a person not with that condition (ie. calling someone a 'retard' or acting 'retarded').  

  • On our forms from DCF about what type of foster kids we would take they listed "Mentally retarded"  DH and I were beyond on shocked.
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  • Edited because I meant to quote MirandaHobbs

    I am a state/federal employee and I would never say anyone was mentally retarded. 

    However,  I do both see and use the diagnosis of Mental Retardation.  It is still an actual medical diagnosis. 

    So no, the "feds" do not say someone is mentally retarded but the diagnosis of mental retardation is still used.

  • imageNY Mama:
    Mental retardation is an official DSM-IV diagnosis with varying levels.  There is profound, severe, moderate and mild mental retardation which is typically based on valid IQ scores.  So if you are referring to a person with a diagnosis of mental retardation that would be the only appropriate way in which to use it.

     

    I think the next version of the DSM is going away from that term. ICD-9-CM has already converted to intellectual disability with the same categorizations as to severity.

    Basically, even the medical establishment is moving away from using the term. I've even seen people going out of their way in documentation not to say "retarded growth" or the like. Now it's impeded or constrained or something similar. 

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  • I refer to things and situations as retarded IRL all the time. I wouldn't here, of course, cause my TB cred points get taken away. 
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  • imageEllaHella:

    imageYules:
    I refer to things and situations as retarded IRL all the time.

    Why am I not surprised?

    Cause I'm not hella cool. 

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  • imagelite-bright:
    without the inflammatory/derogatory history that comes with "retarded". 

    I think it's kind of interesting that we don't have the same feelings about "idiot," "moron," and "imbecile."  They are also outdated terms that were once used by medical professionals to discriminate against people with supposed cognitive disabilities.  But we use those words all the time.  I'm aware of the hurt and real mistreatment of people behind those words, and I still use them.  I wonder what makes it different?  Just that more decades have passed, I guess.

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