Today is the fifth annual day of awareness, sponsored by the R-Word campaign, to end the use of what the New York Times calls “a word gone wrong” in its Sunday article about the organization. What used to be an outdated clinical, even medical, term has over time become an ugly derogatory slang that simultaneously stings most and desensitizes others with every utterance.
In the article, Lawrence Downes writes that, “To those with intellectual disabilities, it sometimes seems the battle is just at the beginning, when little victories — like an end to insults — are hugely important.”
So what can we do? Even little victories lead to big rewards, so I suggest we start early and build. One way to encourage your kids and get the discussion started is through books about bullying. Read together and talk about how the situations make them feel. How would you handle the situation if this happened at your school? What should you say when you encounter a bully or if someone else is being bullied?
Fred Bowen’s latest, Perfect Game, is a great place to start. The story follows Isaac, a star pitcher, who is so preoccupied with pitching a perfect game that he can’t even celebrate his team’s victories — he’s stuck on the mistakes that were made. 
When Isaac gets the chance to work with a Unified Sports basketball team made up of intellectually challenged and average kids all playing together, his definition of a perfect game finally starts to change. For more on Perfect Game and the Special Olympics, check out Fred’s website here.