Friday, November 5, 2010

Such An Aquitard

I think of all of these profound topics that I want to write about, and then the more I think about them, the more aquitarded they seem.  Or, I think of the content such a blog would entail, and it seems inappropriate.  This IS my personal blog, but it's not a PRIVATE blog, know what I mean?  The Internet has gotten me in trouble before.  I don't wanna go about embarrassing my future family.

Anyway, today's post is about the word "retarded".  Just before my diagnosis, I was asking around a bit about personality traits that people see in me.  Wondering what was wrong with me, basically.  I asked a bunch of strangers and some not so strangers.  During the course of this inquiry, someone I went to elementary school with piped up.  We hadn't spoken in years, and I really don't have any idea why we are on one another's FB list after all this time.  Half the people that friend requested me never even really spoke to me in school.  Anyway, she told me that, pretty much, all of the kids in my elementary school thought I was retarded.  I acted strangely.  Very strangely.  No one batted an eye because they thought I was mentally handicapped.  I asked my mother about this later, and it turns out, no one even told her about my strange behavior at school.  I guess they assumed she KNEW she had a retarded daughter.  It was one of those things where the kids laughed at me behind my back and pretended to like me to my face because "it's just so sad" and the adults (teachers/administrators, etc.) allowed me to act like a fool in front of everyone because they felt it would be discriminatory to retarded people to stop me.  My teachers weren't trained to deal with retarded kids.

If I was retarded, wouldn't I have been in the specials class?  Is that what threw everyone off?  I KNOW the kids in the specials class were redirected in their behaviors.  I saw it happen.  So, why wasn't I?  My theory, because I didn't look like the kids in the specials class.  I have no Downs features, no physical slowness to develop (until puberty, Lawd, I was a late bloomer).  I had no speech delays or any intellectual issues.  My mother told me she had me tested when I was 6.  I don't remember why she said, but I think it had something to do with the school wanting me to skip first grade due to my reading ability.  As it was, she said I tested into a freshman-level reading class.  I didn't skip a grade.  My social skills wouldn't have handled it.

In light of my diagnosis, though, the question has come up.  Am I, or am I not, actually retarded?  I've been called "retard" by people my entire life, people that meant to insult me, and of course I got offended.  That was the purpose of using the word.  But, I find that I feel a little twinge of pain when people use the word "retard" in general conversation.  Not offense, exactly, but actual hurt.  Even if the label isn't directed at me or is being self-deprecating.  Last night, in Geology, we were learning about aquifers and aquitards, and during the group lab, we weren't doing so hot, and my team members kept saying, "We are being such aquitards."  Funny, right?  Little play on words in Geology.  As it was, I felt hurt by it and more than a little embarrassed for being hurt by it.

Am I retarded?  I don't know.  I guess in a strict sense of the term, yes.  My social development was, in fact, retarded. 

I didn't go to therapy for this, I went to training.  It felt like torture.  I always left the sessions feeling worse than when I went in.  Like I was trying to force myself to be something I'm not.  I still am.  Every time I want to say "screw it" I remember that no one that I interact with on a professional basis (or educational) can stand me.  If I can't overcome this, to put it simply, I can't keep a job.  That's the topic for another post.  My 3 million jobs, none of which lasted very long (except for one, and I have a very good idea of why).

3 You Said What?:

Eternal Lizdom said...

Retard is a word that I don't allow. And I've stood up to people using it before.

You aren't retarded. You are a person with a form of autism.

I'm sorry that there are hard memories bheind you- I understand that. Maybe writing will help sort through some of it.

KarrieFaBuLoUs said...

This made me very sad to read. I remember you in school and I thought that we were a lot alike. People made fun of me too b/c I was so socially awkward. I don't think that people called me retarded...but ANNOYING was the word. I HATE being called annoying now. Call me a loser, call me a nerd, call me a b!tch...but don't call me annoying. I tried so hard to fit in that I made my situation worse. I'm sorry that the pain of your childhood is still haunting you but you've got to realize that you are an awesome person. Your blog is flippin hilarious and I LOL when I read are helping so many aspies by "coming out" and telling your story. AND you are an awesome stepmom...just sayin

Alex said...

Retarded as a word has such horrid negative connotations. I think we should take it back and put a positive spin on it! Like gay people did with the word gay and black people did with the word.... uhhhhh... the N word.