Ellen Seidman and her son Max, who has cerebral palsy.
Ellen Seidman and her son Max, who has cerebral palsy.

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN

(CNN) – Every time Ellen Seidman hears the word “retarded,” she worries for her 9-year-old son, Max, who has cerebral palsy.

She wonders if people will ever respect him, or see him as an equal, if they associate that word with people like him, who have intellectual disabilities.

“I’m not saying that anyone who uses the word flippantly has something against people with special needs,” said Seidman, a magazine editor and mom blogger. “But it is a demeaning word even if it’s meant as a joke, because it spreads the idea that people who are cognitively impaired are either stupid or losers.”

Seidman is not alone in her desire to see “the R-word” go the way of racial slurs once considered acceptable. More than 250,000 people have pledged online to take part in the Special Olympics’ campaign to “spread the word to end the word.” Many of them are expected to participate in Wednesday’s annual day of action through pledge drives, fundraisers and individual acts to raise awareness.

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