“That retarded kid that was kidnapped, probably didn’t even understand what was going on…….”

Seen a great article today. Just like somebody took words out of my mind.

“That retarded kid that was kidnapped, probably didn’t even understand what was going on…….”

I heard that on a radio call in talk show, the other day. I have been letting that sort of, soak in my consciousness, thinking of what I was going to write about.

Let me start by saying, I am very proud father of two boys, one with 46 Chromosomes and the other with 47. My oldest child has Down syndrome. I have noticed something over the course of the last 10 years since his birth. No matter what race, sex, sexuality or religion people are, there are those in our population that just seem to spew negativity at those individuals in the world with special needs. Frankly, I am even more astounded, when I hear it from minorities or the LGBT folks, because for so long in America, they weren’t themselves considered a full person. Our history show us the awful way they were treated and yet, there is this disconnect, when it comes to those with cognitive disabilities.

I hear these things like RETARD, thrown around, even at work. When I hear that word, I also hear this, “oh, I didn’t mean it like that.” So let me tell you, the reader who does use that word, in your vernacular, you do mean it like that. When you use RETARD in a sentence to describe someone acting silly, foolish, spastic, dumb, ignorant or any other action deemed to lack intelligence, you really mean this “quit acting like a person with special needs, whose dumb, stupid, or needs assistance.” That is what you mean, please finish the sentence the next time you say it, “quit acting RETARDED like a person with Down syndrome, or cerebal palsy, or autism…..” I dare you. You won’t because it doesn’t fit in with your greater sense of self. You might not be comfortable with this, but your words carry hatred and discrimination.

I have called into my HR department at previous employers and they seemed perplexed at the right course of action. What a powerless feeling that is. I have pictures of my sons in my office. My children visit our office upon occasion. I would be mortified if a co-worker said such words, not knowing he was in the room. I think that people should be able to come to work without feeling uncomfortable for life choices they make, so long as they aren’t against the law or a company’s code of conduct.

This all ties into the events last week, where a young man, with developmental and cognitive delays was kidnapped, by being LURED into a car with other young adults and was tortured for 48 hours. The assailants broadcasted it on Facebook Live.

While I do not speak for the Special Needs community, I think that I am sensitive enough to tell you this: LAST WEEK, THE GREATEST FEAR OF EVERY PARENT OR GUARDIAN OF A SPECIAL NEEDS PERSON WAS REALIZED. Our Greatest fear is you, the predator out there amongst society, who knows that in general, that adults and children with special needs are trusting, are incapable of thinking in the methodical and frankly evil way you do. Our greatest fear is letting our children out into this world, where something like this could happen.

If that seems unreasonable, I would ask that your Google, “justice for ethan.” Ethan had Down syndrome. He and a friend, went to a movie theatre and when the film was over Ethan didn’t want to leave. Ethan was a 25 year old adult, making a fuss, a childish fuss about leaving, he wanted to see it again. Security was called in, and 3 off duty police officers were on staff moonlighting. When they could not reason, with a man with Down syndrome, they restrained him, with a head lock. Now you don’t know about Down syndrome and neither did they, but there can be a cervical deformity in the neck of some people with Down syndrome. So, as they were restraining a man with Down syndrome, choking him, as he cried out “I want my mommy” they broke the bone and Ethan died. Ethan, went to movies and was wrongly killed by three adult law officers, because they perhaps grew tired of negotiating with someone with the body of an adult and the comprehension of a child? True story.

In Illinois last week, that young man was lured into a car and it brought him 45 miles into the metropolitan area of Chicago, where 4 people, released their inhumanity upon him. The targeted him because he was easy prey. They targeted him because he was white and released upon him some false sense of rage because their skin tone is different than his. Because they knew he couldn’t fight back.

They are a reflection of a portion of this world that sees little value and a lot of burden in the existence of those people with special needs. It doesn’t happen often, but upon occasion, a stranger will say to me, when they hear my child has Down syndrome, I am sorry. You’re sorry? You’re sorry for what! I think to myself. I can’t tell you the percentage of times that we are out and adult or child will stare at my son. I completely understand the curiosity of children, special needs people, act different, they quite often have sensory issues and noise and visual stimulation can make them uncomfortable. However it is the adults staring that I find so repulsive. I think 10 years into having him in our lives; I truly believe some people are astonished that we didn’t terminate his life. I know this because people will sometimes ask, “did you know, about the diagnosis?” I won’t speak for anyone’s morality but my own; I don’t find any consequences in this life as disposable. His life wasn’t mine to give or take, he is exactly who he is supposed to be.

Special needs parents have a very different experience than those without special needs. From the moment that child is born, you are in steady contact with doctors, nurses, their staff, social workers, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, it is a relentless onslaught of people telling you, what to do, how to do, when to do. This increases tenfold as you enter the school system.

We become masters of patience as we watch our children and their scattered development. We take great pride in the smallest of accomplishments made because they often take so much for them to master. We also pray a lot, as our children often have medical conditions that require surgeries and medical issues that seem to come out of nowhere. There is something paralyzing, when you see your 3 month old child, lying in bed after open heart surgery. In speaking for myself, I have never felt so small, helpless and weak, knowing that only a doctor’s scalpel and the will of God would determine the fate of my child. My wife and I have known a lot of people who have had some really ill children with special needs and too many that lost their children.

If all parents invest in their children, I would say that we invest more. My wife is a mom, a nurse, a therapist, a cook, a maid, a teacher and countless other things while I am out trying to keep food on the table and the wolf at the door. We seek no medal, no special recognition, and no praise, nothing for ourselves, with the exception of the following: please try to see the value in the people, you are by nature, the most likely to exclude because you don’t know them.

People come in all colors, sizes and intelligence. I swear to you, that prior to that boy being born, I was a high self-absorbed ASSHOLE, that took way more than I gave, that put money and possessions before people and thought of my needs first always. I was heading down a road fueled by Jack Daniels and recreational drugs; a life of meaning excess. I was certainly going to be dead before 45. My wife, and these boys, this experience has changed my life. While I am certainly a flawed human being, I try every day to put the needs of others before myself. I am better for this experience.

Please, you the reader find value in those individuals with special needs, condemn words that poke fun at them or their disability. They are people worth knowing, when they hug you, and you let yourself be loved by them, your heart will beat stronger for knowing them. They see a world that we all wish it was, they see love, and they are love.

In closing, WE the strong must always rise to the occasion, and defend those, who can’t defend themselves, because it we do not, then who will?

Please share if you are inclined.

Mark Raff

Sr. Loan Officer and Jimmy and Enzo’s dad


here is the link to original article:


%d bloggers like this: