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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Lynchburg Virginia's Sunday Word for Today: Handicapped

Handicapped what does it mean to you? It is a common word that is set with implications. Today , it is used in at least two different settings, one refers to equalizing betting in sports; and sometimes scoring. And at other times, it refers to someone who is not on par with someone else in physical or mental playing field.

I once heard this statement:

“Don’t call me handicapped, I don’t have my cap in my hand, asking for your help. And don’t call me disabled, cars are what are disabled on the side of the road. And don’t call that person retarded he is not braking , he is going at his own pace.”

Then the question arises, what should you call someone, who had the misfortune not to have an equal footing in life as you? There was a move one time, to change the words that affect this part of our population to physically challenged, or mentally challenged.

This did not take hold. Mainly because two word designations for something that could be conveyed in one, has not been our style. So what would be the proper designation, well to tell you truthfully it is still up in the air.

You can go to the store and you will see handicapped parking. You can go to the Social Security office and you will see the term disabled. And in our school systems, you might see the terms physically or mentally challenged used, or more refined yet, developmentally delayed.

Words have caused an uppity nature in people, use one word and people think you are denigrating another person , use another and you are hip in the field of “politically correct” word usage, that is so much in vogue these days.

My observation, those that are so intent on showing others that they are using words wrong are priding themselves with their "politically correct" usage, have faulted themselves.

They have just managed to say they are better than the other person, by saying they are more sensitive. Makes you wonder who is dumb or dumber.

By the way, handicapped does not have the original meaning of begging that many of thought. It was in fact an early game that developed in England, involving using your hat in your hand.

And no matter what you call it, I have had some of these disability problems myself. I had the misfortune of being born with an RH blood factor problem, that leaves a pigment of the offending blood in your brain and does cause damage.

How did this affect me? I was considered retarded the early part of my life. I didn't speak and had a hard time forming words. My pronunciations are still skewed. I rated just above the level of "idiot" on the Standford Binet tests, in early testing. Believe it or not at the time "idiot," was the proper scientific designation on the test. But was I really "retarded," also the proper term at the time?

Not really, the brain synapses have a remarkable ability to reconnect in a different fashion, and that did happen to me. But basically, I was trapped in my mind without the ability to get my thoughts out. And when I remember taking that Standford Binet test, I remember thinking this is great fun, as I marked in the dots in unusual patterns, I really never read the test at all.

All through the "retarded" stage of my life I was a prolific reader, but they thought I was just flipping pages, I could read very fast. Little did they know I was reading with such a passion, but just couldn't share my thoughts.

Then later in life, I was a passenger in car accident that demolished my right arm. I did some recovery, but even after years, I still have a broken right arm and some residual nerve damage. The icing on the cake was when I developed some palsy of my left hand, my body has been a target of some ill wind.

So how would I describe myself. Well contrary to what you may think, just considering me another human being, is good enough for me.


At 2:39 PM, Anonymous Gravy Beard said...

Great piece Bob!


At 2:48 PM, Anonymous Angela Dusk said...

I think the fact that you chose to address this issue and share your situation with others says a lot about your personality.

At 6:20 PM, Blogger B O B said...

Thank you for your comments. And since you do know me Angela, you know that was not an easy thing for me to share.


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