The ThiRd Rail

I’m still trying to figure out twitter. Can’t decide if it’s really useful for me or not. I’m trying out HootSuite which makes it more accessible, but still kind of overwhelming. Anyway last night as I was scrolling through the most recent tweets two words jumped out at me. Perhaps they would have jumped out at you, too, if like me you are raising a child with special needs and helping take care of an elderly parent.

The tweet said: “I take back that last tweet. It’s insulting to retarded old people with Alzheimer’s. No one should ever be compared to the Mets.”*

I stared at it for a while trying to decide if I needed to reply. I’ve read so much about the R word, particularly when it is misused as an insult. I knew this guy was just trying to be funny (and failing) but I just couldn’t let it go. I replied, hesitantly – not even sure how to reply without offending myself: “Alzheimers is not retardation. It is brain cell death…with devastating results for the individual and their family.” (If you want the full tour check this out.)

He wrote back: “I know. I had a family member go through it.” So how could he be joking about it so flippantly? And maybe not everyone in his audience knows? I replied: “not everyone does. I have both special needs child and a MIL with dementia. Neither is funny. Thanks.”

He wrote back: “I have two brothers who are special needs. I helped raise them. I find it hilarious.” He certainly has a different sense of humor than I do: “there are some funny moments, I agree, but the conditions themselves are not. TTYL” We wouldn’t have a category called “laughing through the tears” if our lives were total sob fests, now would we?

Twitter is a big place, and has been a great tool for social media – arguably being as much a benefit to people with special needs and their families as it is a breeding ground for insulting twits. I certainly can’t on my own police every tweet for the R-word, or misuse of the term “special needs” or poking fun at seniors with cognitive impairment. Is it worth it to even try to engage these folks or should I just “unfollow” and get on with more effective advocacy. What do you think?

* The tweet to which that one refers said:  “Watching the Mets play baseball is like watching the Special Olympics if the Special Olympics involved only old people with Alzheimer’s.”


On an entirely different note, I wanted to let you know about a great little book I reviewed at my personal blog, “Signs of Trouble”. Perfect for reminding your children about emergency situation skills!

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