It’s NOT a Joke

Ashley Gutierrez, Editor

As a high school student, you hear a lot. Things you never knew, never wanted to know, or things no one should ever even say. Autism is used to offend students these days. Many students even use phrases along the lines of “I’m so autistic” or “I’m retarded” to describe themselves when they mess up or get something wrong. They not only use these terms to describe themselves but to insult their peers as well. It is used so often nowadays, students are unaware of how much they say it, and unfortunately, most are unaware of the effect their words have on those around them.

When did mental health issues become a joke? Some kids understand how badly their words can hurt another person. Using words like autistic and retarded as insults can have serve effects on a person’s self-esteem. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the official definition of autism is a variable developmental disorder that appears by age three and is characterized by impairment of the ability to form normal social relationships, by impairment of the ability to communicate with others, and by repetitive behavior patterns. The official Merriam-Webster Dictionary term of retardation is subaverage intellectual ability equivalent to or less than an IQ of 70 that is accompanied by significant deficits in abilities (as in communication or self-care) necessary for independent daily functioning, is usually present from birth or infancy, and is manifested especially by delayed or abnormal development, by learning difficulties, and by problems in social adjustment.

Using these terms in context to insult someone is not only rude and offensive to that person but those who are actually affected by these conditions. These conditions are not something to be talked down upon. There are many people with Autism and diseases such as Down Syndrome that live fulfilling lives. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Tim Burton, Andy Warhol, Lauren Potter, and Luke Zimmerman are all famous, successful people in our society today that are affected with either a condition on the spectrum of Autism or Down Syndrome. These people are truly an inspiration to today’s world.