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The Other Half

For one half of the parents and children of this world, development and hitting milestones is no big deal. Heck, I even know some parents who gripe about their kids reaching milestones, because, gee now they have to work harder at baby-proofing or keeping their kid from doing something crazy. Like plunging down the stairs on to their heads. Or I have heard folks say: I don't know why I was in such a hurry to get so and so to start talking, now I can't get the squirt to shut up! A year ago, I too was such a parent. And now I want to take the time to apologize to all the special needs parents that I now have the privilege to know, and say, that my only excuse is that I was a total ignoramus with no clue about life.
There, now that that's out of the way, I want to tell all you parents of neuro-typical kids to stop your griping. Are you nuts? Holding your kid BACK? Now that is a concept that just doesn't compute with me. If your baby can crawl, help him walk. If he can walk, push him to run. And if he can run, boy you had better do your damnedest to make sure he FLIES. Because that is your job. Your mission. Maybe even your vocation. Give your child the time, the reason, the tools to achieve the impossible. Every babe born into this world is a limitless promise waiting to be fulfilled. No one can limit that promise, or put a cap on it, or tell you that this baby will be just a waste of space and a drain on society. How can they?! It boggles the mind.
The word that is the opposite of "milestone,"  perhaps is even its arch nemisis is the word "delayed." A very popular word in the medical circles, and a defining word when it comes to your special little kiddo. But I can't help thinking when I hear it: delayed from what exactly, and by whom?  This is a notice to tell you that your child has been delayed by Tough Luck and that Better Luck Next Time is out of town on vacation? By how much is he delayed you may ask, wringing your hands in anxiety, (please God make it be months instead of years...) you may even pray.  Then the verdict may fall- and it may be years instead of months and all you can think of is how your heart plunges to the bottom of your soul and flops around there like a dying fish. It hurts so much. That is how it is for the other half of the parents in this world.

For one half of this world saying the word "retard" is no big deal. They use it often and don't even notice.

For the other half, hearing the word "retard" is like a putting the already gasping fish on burning coals. 

But I get tired of all this two part world stuff. In the end, we are all in it together. Big, and small, weak and strong. Delayed and advanced. Mentally retarded, and mentally normal.  Lets abolish the differences, the words that separate and hurt, that single others out and define what is normal or not. Because if there is anything that I've learned from my experiences with Leo is that everyone holds a hurt that can't be healed, and everyone treads on a path that runs close with death, regardless of how high the hedge is that separates the two ways. Let's start with our words. And since as much as I would like it, getting rid of "milestone" and "delayed" is not probable; lets at least get rid of the word "retarded." And it's the simplest thing to do. Just. Don't. Say It. Or mean it, or even think it. And poof! The two halves become one. Make it your mission. For Leo. Don't define or limit him, because if you know his story, you know that doesn't work too well!

Tomorrow is Leo's therapy and development review. A group of therapists will test him on his skills in eight different categories. Based on his final outcomes they will be able to place him on the development chart, and see what other therapies he may need to help him progress. This is all good stuff, geared towards getting him to meet those milestones, and even though I may hate the fact that those milestones have to exist, I still cheer him on like a madwoman. And he makes me proud. Every single time.


  1. God bless you, Anna for speaking right out!!! Beautiful photos! We are all made in the image of God! :-)

  2. Leo is so amazing to me. Who could even think of using hurtful words when you can look in his eyes and know that though his body may be flawed his soul is perfect. "Retard" is a word that is not allowed in my home or my life. I also do not allow in my house the word "stupid". They are words that are not useful or helpful to anyone and are used purely to degrade someone or something. I'm proud of you Anna for taking this stand against words that hurt and those who use them without even thinking. ~Amanda

  3. Hey, any word that was invented to hurt - hurts! only if we are echoing it in our heart... Thank God, Leo and those who love him are well protected from that. He is a unique and perfect person as any other child. And, by the way, do you remember the book "Leo the Late Bloomer" by Robert Kraus that we liked so much? ;-)

  4. beautiful post, you said it perfectly.

  5. i read this post today and also saw this video about the word "retarded" that a friend shared...

    thanks for all the many small ways you've allowed us to experience part of this amazing journey.

  6. As the mum of a child who has been categorized with that 'R' word...thank you. Our daughter is now 20, very soon to be 21 and I am so tired of hearing the comparisons..where she is on some chart somewhere. She is a beautiful child of God...just like your wonderful son.

  7. go Leo, go Leo, go Leo!!!!!

  8. Bravo to you for allowing God to use you to teach such valuable lessons to others. It's a perspective that others don't have or are oblivious to; great job of bringing it to light. Wishing you could get it out to more than just the people that read your blog (although, that may be a LOT of people). Don't stop! And that is one amazing boy you have. :) A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

  9. Blessing to you and your family. He is a perfect child - it was instilled at conception and carried through with parenting. Every time I log on I see something new going on in his eyes. It's amazingly wonderful to watch children grow - and he has at that! Way to go mom and dad and big sister. Leo, too.


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