It was my first week of grade five at a new school when I learned the word that would haunt me for years to come. One morning, I got off my bus and walked around the school to the back. A girl approached me and said, “You know, you’re in the retarded class.” Then she walked away. I didn’t know what “retarded” meant, but I understood that it wasn’t good. When I eventually made friends, I told them about the girl’s comment and her teacher found out. One day during recess, her teacher gathered both of us together and asked if she had said that.
“Rebecca, I would never say that,” the girl replied.
The teacher didn’t look further into it, but the girl never bothered me again. However, I gained another bully. Every day, he called me “stupid,” “idiot” and “retarded.” I became afraid to attend school. I told my educational assistant and she accompanied me to the principal’s office. After explaining the situation, the principal said, “Well, his mom died of cancer, and his dad travels a lot for work, so his older brother takes care of him.” His brother was notified that I had complained, but no serious measures were taken. The bullying continued for two years, until I graduated. Continue reading “How I Learned the Meaning of Ableism | Rebecca Riley”