Health

Mother and Father Respond to A "Retarded" Halloween Costume

There's no shortage of offensive Halloween costumes on the market: One woman's post about costumes that insult people with developmental disabilities is hitting a nerve on Facebook. 

A woman named Shannon Morgan Daughtry recently shared her husband's reaction to a coworker laughing about seeing a "retarded" Halloween costume at a party. Daughtry and her husband Dustin have a daughter with Down syndrome.

Daughtry wrote that her husband, offended by the remark, asked the others what a "retard" is supposed to look like, before showing them a picture of his daughter, Raegan:

Shannon Morgan Daughtry

After the men said that the little girl was cute, Dustin told them, "Thanks, she is amazing. She has Down syndrome. So, I'm sure you can imagine that I don't appreciate this costume conversation. I'm just wondering, Is she what a retard looks like, to you?"

After Dustin said this, "mouths dropped and there was total silence while the guy tried to say that wasn't what he meant, on and on," Daughtry claimed in her post.

"Dustin just went on to explain why that word is so hurtful, shouldn't be used, and especially how insulting it was to use it as a joke and a costume," Daughtry continued. "Yeah, I'm sure it was pretty uncomfortable for everyone involved. But I think that those people at the lunch table probably went home with a little better understanding of why that word is so offensive and hurtful, especially to a family like ours. And I think one guy in particular probably went home feeling like a total jerk."

The post has received more than 2,000 reactions on Daughtry's Facebook page, and more than 40,000 reactions on the popular Facebook page Love What Matters, where some commenters responded by sharing photos of their own loved ones with developmental disabilities: 

Facebook

Daughtry, the co-founder of a Down syndrome awareness non-profit organization called Nothing Down, told ATTN: via email that it "comes naturally to [her] family to advocate for individuals with Down syndrome," but that she doesn't usually publish personal stories about her family.

"So many times we hear people say the 'R-word' and when confronted, they insist they weren't talking about people with intellectual disabilities," she said via email. "But as the parents of a little girl with Down syndrome, that word feels like a punch to the gut when we hear it. Right now Raegan doesn't understand it. But one day she will, and that's what really hurts."

She added that it has been very interesting to see her story go viral, and that some people have emailed her to say they will no longer say the "R-word":

"They explained that they didn't realize how much it could hurt someone until they read our story. The post has changed the way some people view the word, and that is what I hoped for when sharing it in the first place. I had thought if it changed one or two people's perspective, it was worth it."

In addition to dealing with cruel comments as illustrated in Daughtry's post, having developmental disabilities can pose other challenges for people trying to live normal lives. Maintaining employment can be one of them. Though it is illegal to discriminate against workers or job applicants for having disabilities, less than 20 percent of people with a disability were employed in 2015, according to a 2016 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Daughtry's full post is below:

Update 10/27/2016 12:14 p.m. PDT: This piece has been updated to include comments from Shannon Morgan Daughtry.