Thursday, February 21, 2013

That word. You know what it is.

The r-word.  Why would you use it?  Think you are funny?  Have you ever really thought about it, that word?  Using it is just wrong.


Help me to spread the word to end the word.  Let's all end using the r-word.

Will you take the pledge and join me?

WHY PLEDGE: What is the R-word and Why is its Use a Problem?

“Everyone has a gift and the world would be better off if we recognized it.” – Timothy Shriver, Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics. 
The R-word is the word 'retard(ed)'. Why does it hurt? The R-word hurts because it is exclusive. It’s offensive. It’s derogatory. The R-word is hate speech. See why supporters think the R-Word is hurtful when used in jokes or as part of everyday speech. More on Effects >

How "retardation" went from a clinical description to a word of derision

When they were originally introduced, the terms “mental retardation” or “mentally retarded” were medical terms with a specifically clinical connotation; however, the pejorative forms, “retard” and “retarded” have been used widely in today’s society to degrade and insult people with intellectual disabilities. Additionally, when “retard” and “retarded” are used as synonyms for “dumb” or “stupid” by people without disabilities, it only reinforces painful stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities being less valued members of humanity. 

History of the Campaign


In response to Special Olympics athletes’ call for change, the Special Olympics International Board of Directors adopts a resolution to update the movement’s terminology from "mental retardation" to "intellectual disabilities."


Special Olympics launches the website to combat the inappropriate use of the R-word in common usage.

August 14, 2008

Special Olympics, Best Buddies International and a coalition of national disability organizations, mobilizes a grass-roots campaign against "Tropic Thunder," a DreamWorks production. Special Olympics athletes joined protestors at demonstrations in Los Angeles, California, Washington D.C., New York City, Delaware, Massachusetts, Missouri and Texas. "Tropic Thunder," marketed as a satire about Hollywood actors and the movie industry in general, contains scenes promoting the idea that a "retard" is funny.
View the complete history of the campaign

Why "intellectual disability" is replacing "mental retardation"

The R-word, “retard,” is slang for the term mental retardation. Mental retardation was what doctors, psychologists, and other professionals used to describe people with significant intellectual impairment. Today the r-word has become a common word used by society as an insult for someone or something stupid. For example, you might hear someone say, “That is so retarded” or “Don’t be such a retard.” When used in this way, the r-word can apply to anyone or anything, and is not specific to someone with a disability. But, even when the r-word is not said to harm someone with a disability, it is hurtful.
Because of this, Special Olympics, Best Buddies and the greater disability community prefers to focus on people and their gifts and accomplishments, and to dispel negative attitudes and stereotypes. As language has evolved, Special Olympics and Best Buddies have updated their official terminology to use standard, people-first language that is more acceptable to constituents.

Rosa’s Law and Legislature Challenges

On October 5, 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama officially signed bill S. 2781 into federal law. Rosa’s Law, which takes its name and inspiration for 9-year-old Rosa Marcellino, removes the terms “mental retardation” and "mentally retarded" from federal health, education and labor policy and replaces them with people first language “individual with an intellectual disability” and “intellectual disability.” The signing of Rosa’s Law is a significant milestone in establishing dignity, inclusion and respect for all people with intellectual disabilities
More on Rosa's Law >

Be gentle.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Will you help? Google Doodle

Do you enjoy the "Google Doodle" every morning?  I sure do.  And most mornings, it makes me think, click on the doodle and learn more about whatever topic the doodle represents.

One of my Facebook friends, Mark Jones has created a "Doodle" and would love to have Google feature is on March 21.  Isn't this a great Doodle?

Would you help us spread the word and get Google to publish this Doodle?  You can help by emailing Google at

Be gentle.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

My special gift

I received a special gift yesterday.  Today is our anniversary.  Yesterday the boys thirteenth birthday.  You would think I would be excited about a gift the boys received yesterday (which were many, thank you everyone) or something special that my husband did for me today.  But no, it is a much more special gift that I was given yesterday.  I am still in awe.

I need to take a step back and begin this story properly........

I am a typical worried mom back in August as Davey and Will were beginning middle school.  One of my many fears about my babies starting middle school was Davey having to "dress out" for Physical Education.  All the kids go to the locker room and change into their gym clothes before coming outside to participate in the exercise program.  Davey loves to parade around home in his undies (a big improvement from when he wore only his birthday suit) and I was afraid he would do this in the boys locker room while he was changing clothes.  Another bigger fear was that Davey would be taken advantage of or teased in the locker room by the other seventh and eighth grade boys.  I expressed my fears to Davey's wonderful homeroom teacher Mrs F.  She told me not to worry.  She and the physical education staff would make sure Davey had an great experience in his PE class.  OK, I would take their word for it, but follow his progress closely.

First week of school follow up with Davey's teacher Mrs F went well.  She told me that Davey had been assigned a locker next to the office of the PE teachers in the boys locker room.  She also told me Davey had been assigned a buddy to help him "dress out", open his combination lock on his locker in the locker room, and also get dressed back in his street clothes.   This small gesture by the school in helping Davey assimilate into the school and truly be "included" in the middle school experience.

Fast forward to a week ago.  For weeks, Davey has been talking about his "friends" at school and especially his friend Chase.  I mean all the time he talks about all the fun they have at school.  As we got closer to his birthday, Davey said  he wanted to invite Chase to his party.  I said sure but didn't think much about it.  We made party invitations and Davey took them to school and handed them out in his homeroom.  We also invited all of his friends from Special Olympics.  Friday before the party, I asked Davey if he needed any more invitations.  He told me he needed one more for Chase.

Friday afternoon, when Davey got home from school, he brought with him two VERY LARGE balloons that said "Happy Birthday!".  Davey told us Chase had given them to him.  Just amazing.  Davey was so proud of those balloons.  They are still flying high in the living room.

Yesterday, we all piled into the car, went to the park and got ready for the big party.  Guests starting arriving.  We started in on the pizza and got the hot dogs grilling.  Davey mentioned several times that Chase was coming.  And guess what, Chase arrived at the party with his two friends, Chris and Hunter.  These three boys just made me so happy.  All three young men gave Davey a big hug and wished him happy birthday.  Davey was grinning while he was introducing them to everyone.

I had a few minutes to chat with these young men.  They were so polite.  Chris told me Davey has nick named him Tater Tot.  They don't know why, but he is know as Tater Tot by Davey.  Chase told me that they loved being friends with Davey.  They enjoyed watching him make three pointers in PE class.  We all joked about Davey's love for all things Justin Bieber.  Davey is part of their group.

What a great moment for any parent, to meet their friends and realize that they have really nice friends.  But an even greater moment when your child has a special need.  I am so blessed.

Be gentle.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Down Syndrome Uprising

Down Syndrome Uprising.

Down syndrome Uprising. This place is for the sharing of thoughts, ideas, passions and the creation of a unified, global community of Down syndrome activists.

Here is the link to Down Syndrome Uprising.  Join us!

Be gentle.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pupdate time

Pupdate....  It has been a while since I have posted pics of the puppies and the rest of my crew.  The pups are now 6 months and so smart and beautiful.

My beautiful Bella

Huayra and Amigo

Karma and Bella

Be gentle.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A parent's nightmare......

This is just NOT acceptable.

Parents of special needs student irate over duct-taped shoes

The struggles are not new to families of children with disabilities, nor are the troubling stories that have made headlines — children improperly restrained in chairs, confined in “safe rooms,’’ or even struck by school employees.

But what Nate and Elizabeth Searcy found when their 8-year-old daughter returned from school Monday sent shockwaves well beyond their Westside Indianapolis home. Shaylyn, who has Down syndrome, had her socks bound tightly to her shoes with duct tape in her classroom at Westlake Elementary School in Wayne Township.

“It’s an outrage,’’ said Kim Dodson, associate executive director of Arc of Indiana, a special-needs advocacy group. What happened to Shaylyn, she said, is something that could happen to any special-needs child in Indiana – one of 20 states that have no laws protecting them from the misuse of “seclusion and restraint” policies in schools.

“I think that it is time for the state of Indiana to do something to require all school corporations to have some type of policy on record,” Dodson said Tuesday.

The incident is the latest of several in area schools during the past four years, including a mother’s complaint about her 9-year-old son being locked in a small “safe room” in a Pike Township school last November. Perry Township schools on Indianapolis’ Southside has dealt with at least two incidents during the past five years – an now-retired educator accused of twice striking a disabled man, and a teacher accused of deliberating trying to sicken a 7-year-old boy with autism and food allergies.

Shaylyn Searcy’s parents said she could not even stand up and walk down the aisle of her school bus when she returned home Monday.

"She said, 'I can't. It hurts.' So we had to carry her off the bus," said Elizabeth Searcy, 29.

"She had duct tape all the way from her feet up around the tops of her ankles. And it was industrial duct tape. It literally pulled fabric off her socks and vinyl off her shoes, it was so strong."

Searcy said her daughter sometimes refuses to put on her shoes, and speculates that is why someone used duct tape in this case.

"They have called me about it before," Searcy said. "I don't know why they couldn't have called me again this time."

The Searcys immediately took their daughter back to the school, Elizabeth Searcy said, and sought help removing the duct tape. That took 30 minutes.

The tape caused bruising on Shaylyn’s ankles, Searcy said.

Searcy said this was the first year Shaylyn and her brother Riley, 6, were at Westlake Elementary School. The family previously sent their children to another Wayne Township school, Bridgeport Elementary, but needed to change schools after moving last year.

Searcy said Shaylyn is not going back to Westlake, and they’ve made special arrangements to have her return to Bridgeport on Thursday. Nate Searcy said they are also speaking with children’s advocacy groups about the incident.

Wayne Township released a statement Tuesday saying they are conducting an investigation and have notified the Indiana Department of Child Services.

“If warranted, we will file a report with the agency,” the statement read.

“We have also involved our own law enforcement officers in the investigation. When the investigation into this incident is concluded, we will take appropriate action.”

Wayne Township School Board President Stan Ellis said Tuesday evening that board members are not commenting on this incident, and will rely on the district’s communication staff for any public statements about it.

Advocates like Dodson said incidents like these are the result of fundamental problems that need to be fixed at the state level. Only 16 states have statutes that limit the use of restraint to emergencies involving immediate risk of harm, according to an April 2012 report published by the Autism National Committee.

Indiana is not one of them — but while the state does not have any official statutes, there are still recommendations.

Those guidelines stem from a 2009 order issued by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan that all states review their policies and guidelines about the use of seclusion and restraint, and allow for physical restraint if a student is posing a physical risk.

“Some schools do a really nice job with it,” Dodson said. “Some schools don’t do a nice job with it.

“And some schools do nothing.”

Some state legislators are trying to create a law that would address the issue. Senate Bill 345 is up for a vote in the Senate Education Committee next week, and would require local school boards to approve policies on seclusion and restraints.
Indiana Sen. Randy Head, a Republican from Logansport, authored the bill.

He said that if passed, it would require schools to provide training for school personnel, outline a protocol for notifying parents about when seclusion or restraint are used and create standardized definitions for common seclusion and restraint measures. Head said he couldn’t speculate on the Searcys’ case, and did not know how differently the issue would have been handled had his bill been in effect.

“Other states have thought about this problem and addressed it and kept laws on the books,” he said. “They’ve come up with solutions that haven’t been too unwieldy, and haven’t had any consequences.”

Call Star reporter Bill McCleery at (317) 444-6083.

Be gentle.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Punk Syndrome

Music.  Everyone has their own tastes and preferences. I am a country music fan, but do enjoy listening to all types of music.

 Here is a review of a documentary about a punk band.  OK, there are lots of punk bands, and no, I do not usually listen to punk music.  What caught my eye about this review (or my ear) is that this band is composed of two individuals with autism and two individuals with down syndrome.  How cool is that?  Rock on guys and much success with your musical journey.

The Punk Syndrome – review

the punk syndrome

This attractive Finnish film brings to mind the Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki's Leningrad Cowboys Go America, a zany comedy about a terrible Finnish rock group touring the States. The difference, however, is that Kärkkäinen and Passi's film is a documentary about a real punkquartet called Pertti Kurikka's Name Day, a genuine punk quartet made up of the autistic duo of Pertti Kurikka (lead guitar) and Karl Aalto (singer), and the Down's syndrome duo of Sami Helle (bass) and Toni Välitalo (drums). Sami and Toni are younger and more cheerful than Pertti and Karl, whose songs are often angry and aggressive (eg I Need a Little Respect and Dignity in My Life; I Hate the World). But all four have a suitable punk wildness

The film presents them in warm domestic settings, on tour, making their first overseas visit (including an amusing gig on Hamburg's Reeperbahn), and cutting their first DVD. Nobody patronises them or laughs behind their backs, and they rightly take their art seriously. A very likable, relaxed film.

Be gentle.