According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, in 1929 the life expectancy of a child born with Down syndrome was 9 years. Steadily, advancements in the world of medicine have been made. Thanks to how those advancements have been applied to patients with Down syndrome, the life expectancy of an individual with Down syndrome has drastically increased.
Based on data collected from death certificates between 1983 and 1997 in the United States,
researchers found that the average age at death for 17,897 individuals reported to have Down syndrome increased from 25 years in 1983 to 49 years in 1997.
Currently, the average life expectancy of a person with Down syndrome is 55 years.
This means that, for the first time in history, people with Down syndrome are outliving their parents.
It is also why THIS is the generation that must erradicate the use of the word "retard" in accepted speech.
I don't use the word "nigger". I don't hear it very often. If I do hear it, I am physically repulsed by the sound of the word and I'm stunned at having been subjected to it at all.
My repulsion isn't because I have children who will find themselves susceptible to that word in the future. It isn't because I have family members whose color of skin would make them easy victims of the term.
I am disgusted at hearing the word "nigger" because I am horrified at the prospect of living in a society that embraces that word or the people who use it. I know the principles behind that word and its induction into common slang. I know that word's intention.
I don't avoid "nigger" because it might hurt my feelings if it's used.
I don't avoid "nigger" because it might hurt someone immediately close to me that I love.
I avoid "nigger" because my world is better than that word and so is every person living in it. If I allow that word to exist, then I allow the principles BEHIND that word to exist. And I am so committed to extinguishing those uneducated beliefs and their potential influence on the world around me that I will physically rise up against that word to ensure that it is immediately snuffed out.
The same HAS to happen with the word "retard". Because, at some point, it is very probable that I will be entrusting my children to this world. And, if there is room for that word in this world, there is no room for them.
You can do your part. You can take that word out of your daily use. You can call others out who are still using it, lighthearted or not. You can demand higher standards from your elected officials, celebrities, teachers and peers.
Ready the world for individuals with differing levels of abilities and you will sweeten the world you live in. Not only because of the prejudice that is suddenly gone from it...but because of the individuals that are suddenly included in it.