Wednesday, August 10, 2011

That's NOT funny...

So far, in my journey with blogging, I have kept my posts light, and somewhat image heavy. Very rarely do I speak of strong opinions or controversy. But something was brought to my attention yesterday and it's gotten to the point where I want to get my thoughts out, whether people read them, agree with them, or care about them is up to the individual...

I was so looking forward to seeing the movie "The Change Up" with my friend Sam this weekend, and was totally disappointed when I found out that the movie is receiving a significant amount of negative feedback regarding a line that is said in the movie. 

At one point Ryan Reynolds' character has a scene with Jason Bateman's character and his twin babies in the movie. Ryan Reynolds says:

 "Why aren't they talking, are they retarded?" then follows it up with "The one on the left looks a little Downsy."

To be honest with you, looking at that statement, out of context, and perhaps being said by a mother or father of a child with Down Syndrome, probably would have been completely acceptable. But sadly this statement was put in the movie to encourage laughter. 

I will be 100% honest with you, prior to having my son, the word "retard," in a derogatory fashion,  had slipped out of my mouth a few times. As soon as the word left my lips I felt guilty. I have been fortunate enough to have been able to interact with numerous people with disabilities, prior to having  my son. During HS for community service credits, I assisted in the SDC (Special Day Class) elementary class that my mom worked in at the time, and got to meet and share my time with a great group of children. My 2nd cousin, Gary, was born with Down Syndrome, and I've known him my entire life, so when I was told there was a possibility my son might have the genetic defect, I felt a strange sense of ease in knowing it would be just fine.

The part that I don't understand is when the word "retard" or "retarded" started being looked at as some sort of joke, or synonym for the words dumb, stupid, silly, or ridiculous. I honestly would like to know how the term "Mentally Retarded," a term STILL used to describe an individuals diagnosis, was transformed into a cut down or a diss. I feel fortunate to have been blessed with a son with Down Syndrome. My 2 other children have the opportunity to be educated, first hand, that people born with Down Syndrome are not only just like everyone else, but bring so much joy to all those around them. Because of the disability Ethan was born with, my sister, brother-in-law and soon to be sister-in-law have all chosen to study either fields of medicine or academics to help those with special needs. My oldest daughter has also decided that when she grows up she wants to become a physical therapist and even go as far as adopting a child with Down Syndrome, because according to her "I know how to take care of them."That is just a few of the blessing that Ethan has brought into our lives, and I can't wait to experience the ones to come. 

Down Syndrome, as well as many other disabilities are all around us. Its nothing to be scared of...it's nothing to laugh at.....

The purpose of this blog was to initially get out my feelings, but if you have made it this far in reading, the least I can do it try to educate you in the type of person I'm fighting for... the type of person that was ridiculed in this movie because of something they were born with. Below is facts on Down Syndrome, please take a minute to possibly learn something new, get some insight into a word you may or may not know about...

• Down syndrome occurs when an individual has three, rather than two, copies of the 21st chromosome. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome.

• Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition. One in every 691 babies is born with Down syndrome.

• There are more than 400,000 people living with Down syndrome in the United States.

• Down syndrome occurs in people of all races and economic levels.

• The incidence of births of children with Down syndrome increases with the age of the mother. But due to higher fertility rates in younger women, 80% of children with Down syndrome are born to women under 35 years of age.

• People with Down syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer's disease, childhood leukemia, and thyroid conditions. Many of these conditions are now treatable, so most people with Down syndrome lead healthy lives.

• A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm. Every person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees or not at all.

• Life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increased dramatically in recent decades - from 25 in 1983 to 60 today.

• People with Down syndrome attend school, work, participate in decisions that affect them, and contribute to society in many wonderful ways.

• All people with Down syndrome experience cognitive delays, but the effect is usually mild to moderate and is not indicative of the many strengths and talents that each individual possesses.

• Quality educational programs, a stimulating home environment, good health care, and positive support from family, friends and the community enable people with Down syndrome to develop their full potential and lead fulfilling lives.

• Researchers are making great strides in identifying the genes on Chromosome 21 that cause the characteristics of Down syndrome. Many feel strongly that it will be possible to improve, correct or prevent many of the problems associated with Down syndrome in the future.

To find out more about Down Syndrome, please visit : National Down Syndrome Society
To find out more on the pledge "Spread the Word to end the Word," please visit : Stop the RWord

XOXO,
-ME

1 comment:

Jeremy's Mommy said...

Thank you for writing this blog. It breaks my heart that people are making humor about disabilities in The Change Up. My son, Cody also has Down Syndrome and brings us a lot of joy too!