“My son has autism. He was diagnosed when he was 4 and a half. He’s been in school, I’m sure there’s been some sort of bullying because he was afraid to go to school,” Kimberley Reardon said.
Reardon wanted to do something more for her son, so she opened Ignite The Senses Children’s Gym in Bluffton.
“We try to make this a better place where kids can come, feel comfortable, not get bullied, not have words thrown at them,” she said.
Those hurtful words, like the r-word: retarded. It’s slang for mental retardation, a term doctors used to say when describing intellectual disabilities.Today, the word is often used in society to mean “stupid”.
“There’s a wide range of psychological disorders than can result in intellectual disabilities, anything from autism to down syndrome…. and many individuals are affected by this,” said Carey Fitzgerald, a Psychology Professor at the University of South Carolina Beaufort, “This term hurts people more, more than we realize.”
As part of a national “Spread The Word To End The Word” day of awareness on Wednesday, USCB students pledged to “End The R-Word”
“End the R-word, it’s about ending the word retard. Instead of using that, it’s about respect for people that have disabilities,” said Katie Brophy, the president of the USCB Psychology Club that hosted the pledge event, “My brother’s autistic, so for me, it’s important as a family member, because hearing that word retard, it hurts, a lot, because there’s nothing that could be done for him.”
At Ignite The Senses, they’re going even further.
“It’s for both typical and autistic children, we want them to be able to see the differences in whether it’s Autism, Aspergers, downs, we want them to see the differences in those children, so in a classroom situation, someone starts to bully, they can stop it,” said Stephanie Griffin who opened the gym with her sister.
“Special needs…. they’re special kids. One in a million,” said Reardon.
The pledge is part of the Special Olympics events. If you’d like to pledge to end the r-word, you can visit the national webpage here.