LETTER: Treat people with disabilities with respect and acceptance

To Ozaukee Press:

A few days ago, I commented on Facebook about a picture of a young girl with a beautiful smile named Isabella. She looked to be about 4 or 5 years old, and my very limited medical knowledge led me to believe she had Down syndrome. I told her to ignore people who call her names.

Our daughter has cerebral palsy and a few other problems, including a developmental disability. 

My pet peeve is the term “retard.” That is an insult that displays the pompous, cynical, uncaring attitude of the person using it. That is unacceptable anywhere but especially by nurses and doctors in a medical facility or nursing home when they say, “the retard in 306.”

The term has been replaced

by the  more acceptable “person with a developmental disabilities.” So why are people still using the term “retarded person?” It wasn’t too long ago that ARC, an agency that is devoted to helping people with developmental disabilities, was called Association for Retarded

Children, then later Association for Retarded Citizens

Employers, please give an opportunity to the clients this organization recommends. They have a good expectation that their clients will succeed and they will work with you to that end. One employer I worked with had our client work a few hours cleaning because, he said, “with what I pay my skilled help, I can’t afford to have them sweeping.” As the employer realized the worker’s skill level, he gave him some assembly or simple machine operation jobs to do.

Parents, write to your political representatives. Tell them to tour one of these organizations. Insist on funds for agencies that provide job training, support for the individual in outside employment and day services including outings into the community, so the person isn’t in the group home 24 hours a day, day after day.   

After I retired I worked part time at Portal in Grafton, a great organization, serving people with disabilities. Occasionally, someone in the community would say, “you are doing Gods work.” I say, this is everyone’s work. It’s not limited to the professionals (which I wasn’t).

When our daughter was first diagnosed, I did not believe in “mainstreaming,” but I do now. People need to be aware our children exist and get comfortable being around them. Hopefully, the more they realize they are not a threat their fears will turn into acceptance and the rude comments will subside. 

Bob Hamilton

West Bend


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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