On a recent Monday, the mother of one of our Pee Wees (young members with Down syndrome) was on the phone with the child’s pediatrician trying to resolve an issue with a consultation the pediatrician had placed to another specialist. The consult had been submitted, but somehow the mother was unable to activate it. Both parties were frustrated with the process, and suddenly the pediatrician blurted out, “The consult system over there is just so RETARDED.”
What would YOU do? This mother, of course, was so taken aback she didn’t know what to say, and the conversation ended.
Very shortly, as she was about to start crying (that’s certainly what I would have done!) the phone rang again and it was the pediatrician calling back. She was profusely and genuinely apologetic, acknowledged her grievous mistake, and asked if there was anything she could do to right the wrong.
Well, this was a very connected mother who just happened to have heard that the Special Olympics was sponsoring its second annual “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign to spread awareness of the misuse of the words “retarded” and “retard.” The campaign would be happening that very Wednesday, March 3.
So, the mother said that she accepted the apology, and she said that, yes, there was something the doctor could do to “right the wrong.” She explained the “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign, and asked if the pediatrician and the members of her department would wear stickers on that day in support of the cause. The pediatrician readily agreed.
Now the race was on to get stickers within 48 hours. This was a very dedicated mother and she found a way to make it happen. She enlisted some help and 200 stickers were passed out and worn on the Wednesday. What a teachable moment!
Adapted with permission from Downright Active Newsletter.
This article first appeared in issue #15 of Down Syndrome Amongst Us