A mum of a little girl with Down’s syndrome has shared her story in the hope that she’ll educate others about watching what they say around others.
Shannon Morgan Daughtry shared her husband’s story of a hurtful conversation at work with Facebook page Love What Matters.
Posting the story alongside a photo of her adorable daughter, she began:
‘So, I just can’t shake this sad feeling I have had since my husband told me this story today.
‘I wasn’t going to share it, but then decided that if it could enlighten one person, that it would be worth it.’
Shannon writes that her husband, Dustin, was sitting at a lunch table with around 15 other colleagues who he ‘waves hello to but doesn’t really know on a personal level.’
‘Anyway, one of the guys starts telling the whole group a story about a Halloween party that he attended this past weekend. The guy says “OMG, my brother came to the party and had the best costume. He went as a RETARD! Oh man, it was hilarious!!! He was awesome. He looked like such a good retard!”
‘My husband was totally taken aback and just sat there pretty stunned for a moment while he gathered his thoughts. Meanwhile some of the guys were laughing at the story, while some were just listening.
‘So Dustin, almost giving the impression that he was going along with it said, with a small smile, “Well, wait, what does a retard look like?” The guy just said “I don’t know, but he was good! He was the perfect retard”.’
Shannon then went on to describe her husband’s response. Dustin quietly brought up a picture of their daughter on his phone and showed it to everyone.
‘He said “This is my little girl, Raegan” and all the guys, including the storyteller, lean in to look and they all start saying “Awww, she’s adorable!” “Wow, Cute kid, man” etc…
‘Dustin then looked at the storyteller and said “Thanks, she is amazing. She has Down syndrome. So, I’m sure you can imagine that I don’t appreciate this costume conversation. I’m just wondering, Is she what a retard looks like, to you?’
‘Of course, mouths dropped and there was total silence while the guy tried to say that wasn’t what he meant, on and on…. Dustin just went on to explain why that word is so hurtful, shouldn’t be used, and especially how insulting it was to use it as a joke and a costume.
Shannon highlights the importance of her husband calling his colleague out, and how even though it was an awkward situation, everyone there benefited from a deeper understanding of how words can be so hurtful.
‘I think that those people at the lunch table probably went home with a little better understanding of why that word is so offensive and hurtful, especially to a family like ours.
‘And I think one guy in particular probably went home feeling like a total jerk.’
She then reflects on how often ‘the ‘R’ word’ is used in jest, and how people continue to categorise people with disabilities using that word despite all the alternative ways they could be described.
‘At least some good came out of it, but it still makes me feel so sad that some people look at our kids as a joke.
‘I’ve said it a thousand times. There are so many words in the dictionary that you can use in place of the “R” word. Please, for Raegan’s sake, consider using a different one.’
The post has since been flooded with support and thanks, being shared over 5,000 times, liked by 36k, and received thousands of comments from other people sharing their photos of their loved ones with Down’s syndrome and other disabilities.
‘Here’s my son as a pirate. Your daughter is beautiful. Great story. Some people truly do not know that it hurts other people’s feelings saying that word. I’m glad that he could educate them in love and not just haul off and smack them or scream at them. And now maybe next time they hear that word they’ll tell this story. Be blessed’ wrote one woman with a photo of her son.
Well done to Dustin and Shannon for trying to educate others!