Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Back to the DDDR

Don't know how lucky we are, boy.

We start our trip to the DR on Friday. One of Aaron's generous business associates donated his Delta miles to us so we could travel to Miami. Delta stops in Atlanta, so we are taking advantage of the stop and visiting some friends in Chatanooga, TN and getting a tour of Cartoon Network.

After that, we continue on to Miami, where we will meet up with Aaron's folks. And then on to the DR!!!!!

We are very excited about this trip. Soren has not had a seizure for a month (knock wood)! We really think the GFCF diet is to thank for this. Hopefully the stress from travel won't bring on any seizures. AND hopefully we will see some fantastic results from this next treatment!

On another note, Soren is doing quite well. He had an awards ceremony at his school yesterday. Every child in his class got an award for their particular accomplishment. Soren's was for "Independent Sitting." He can now sit for up to 40 minutes against a wall with only that as support!

All the other kids got similar, impressive awards. It was a cool ceremony for amazing kids.

And that leads me to yet ANOTHER note. I got an email from another "special needs" mom yesterday. Her son has Down's and Soren was in class at UCLA with this boy. The email was about an amazing young man named Soeren Palumbo (yes, same name, different spelling). You may have heard of Soeren already. If not, let me tell you about him.

Soeren now a recent high school graduate. 4.0 GPA, 1st in his class, a National Merit Scholar, and will be attending Notre Dame. In February he gave an amazing speech to his high school class about people's casual and cruel use of the word "Retard." The video is not the best, but you can listen to his speech on YouTube.
  • Soeren's Speech

  • His point was that, in this age of political correctness, why is it still acceptable to use the word Retard? And not just to use it in random conversation as a replacement for other words like "stupid" or "dumb." But to specifically target it against the mentally handicapped. Soeren's sister Olivia is mentally challenged, so the use of this word offends him greatly. He didn't understand why people, whose brains are working "normally" would attack people who, because of their "deficiencies" will never hate. Why would people with, theoretically, more brain power want to harm someone with less brain power--someone who would never try to harm them? Soeren's speech struck such a cord, he did an edited verson for Senate and had news reports done on him.

    Now I'll admit right now that I have been guilty of using this word. I've said, "That's totally retarded," without thinking twice about the people it's actually aimed at insulting. Interesting because I learned back in junior high not to say, "That's so gay." I don't say that because "gay" in that context would mean "stupid" and I have plenty of gay friends and none of them are stupid.

    Yet, even after I had Soren and knew his diagnosis, I STILL said, "That's so retarded." Now it wasn't in reference to a person who had challenges, so I rationalized that it was okay (knowing full-well that it wasn't). I thought since I was just using it as an adjective, I was in the clear. Plus, I was a feeling defiant. I didn't want this word taken away just because of my child's disability. Finally, I got it through my own thick head that this just wasn't a good word, no matter how I used it.

    Part of that was realizing how much others used it. People really use it rather nonchalantly. Like me, I have friends who still say this. What's sad is that I haven't had the guts to tell them that it hurts my feelings. I know it's because when they say it they, like me, don't REALLY mean to insult the mentally challenged. They don't mean to insult Soren. They just use it as a word. But the other Soeren's other point was, would you say other offensive and hurtful words as easily? Would you say, "Faggot"? Would you say, "Nigger"?

    So why say, "Retard"?

    Sure, it's just a synonym for stupid and dumb. The difference is, "Stupids" and "Dummies" aren't derogatory terms for a certain group in our society.

    And Soren and his schoolmates aren't Retards. The children I saw yesterday all have their challenges. But each of them is making strides every day towards independence and they all deserved these amazing rewards.

    So, thank you Soeren for speaking out for my Soren.


    No comments: