It was almost one year ago when I wrote the blog “I was Tested …. and Failed”. I was on a business trip in Toronto and while engaged in conversation with another traveler, I heard him say the word “retard”. I was disappointed with myself because I didn’t say or do anything. I promised myself afterwards that I would never allow this to happen again.
Since then, when I hear the R-Word, I speak up. I have had the opportunity to speak with co-workers, friends, called a radio station after hearing the word on air and even called a MLB Baseball team after hearing a ballplayer use the word. If you say it and I hear it, I am going to say something. This vow that I made to eliminate the word also brought me to a one on one meeting with PA House of Representative Doyle Heffley earlier this year. I believed, and still do, that the langue in PA of MHMR, Mental Health and Mental Retardation, needed to be changed. I wanted Representative Heffley to know that while we needed and appreciated the services that the state provided for both Shane and Wyatt, I was having a difficult time with the R-Word being included with the services provided.
This morning, I received a letter from Representative Heffley informing me that he was wholeheartedly supporting PA Senate Bill 458, which amends the Public Health and Welfare Act to change the wording of mental retardation to intellectual disability. This bill unanimously passed in the Human Services Committee meeting on Wednesday, October 5th and is expect to move right along. I am thrilled that this word will no longer be included in the name of the department that provides services to my boys and to so many others.
I would like to personally thank Senator Dinniman for introducing this bill and Representative Doyle Heffley for not only remembering Shane and Wyatt but for taking the time to meet with me and for supporting this bill.