Retard! Autistic!

By Lisa Ackerman

As a parent of a teen diagnosed with autism nothing makes my skin crawl and me more upset then these words – especially together: Retard! Autistic! Especially in a mean, cruel statement.

I am a child during the 1970’s and the derogatory statements once commonplace plus more I don’t wish to repeat here really resonate with me today. Having kids where things don’t go exactly as we hoped really opens ones eyes. Open as wide as Grand Canyon. Watching kids go from perfect to regressed with pain and then a diagnosis of autism is painful. I can only imagine how my kid feels.

50cent stepped into a steaming pile this week by using autism in a hateful way on Twitter (1). Yes with Twitter you have less characters to express yourself. But that does not give you license to be a jerk.

What I get sad about is our kids. Are they deserving to be a butt of a joke? They deserve so much more. They are so kind. So genuine. So pure. They rely on us. We need to be better than that. They deserve the best of us based on what they go through.

I’ve learned so much being a parent of a child with autism. A mountain of information I have been exposed to. Now with TACA I’ve learned so much more. This blog is not big enough and my heart is so full. I am so grateful for the smallest things. I’ve learned so much knowing individuals with special needs.

If you live without autism there by the grace of God you go. Your family dodged the 1 in 88 statistic. Consider yourself blessed.

Please: Don’t pity autism. Don’t hate. Don’t belittle. Sometimes a little respect and understanding goes a long way. And if you want a quippy comeback to burn a friend I got an idea…. Don’t piss off a community of almost 2 million tired, frustrated families struggling for everything you take for granted. We will fight back.

1) Twitter @50cent 7/2/2012


Editors Note: Special thanks to the lovely Holly Robinson Peete for addressing this situation first.  You can read her letter here:

23 thoughts on “Retard! Autistic!

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  1. Another reason why celebrities should be put on a deserted island and never heard from again. They are so feeble minded and self centered they have no clue what the world is like

    1. I know what I am about to write is shocking: some celebrities are good.

      They know who they are. They don’t grandstand.

      And yes – some are not very nice people. They could learn some valuable

  2. It breaks my heart, our children are so amazing and pure! I just can’t comprehend how someone could make a statement like that! Now 50 cent needs to donate a few “million dollars” to TACA, to show his remorse, including an apology! 🙂

  3. Thanks for bringing this to light, I had no idea he did this. It goes to show just how out of touch some celebrities really are. He should donate money to autism charities and apologize for this. What a buffoon.

  4. I don’t really see a difference between what he said and a racial slur. Do you think if it was put to him in that light he would “get it?”

    1. Thanks Kimberly. I thought the same thing. But still there is no apology despite the thousands of comments and press. I would hope that his mom would remind him that words hurt.

  5. Oh, Lisa… it’s awful… but it reflects what most people think. I’ve heard many jokes about autism. Growing up with a brother diagnosed with autism I get really upset when I hear those words.. We must keep fighting!

  6. There are good people in this world and there are bad, I’m happy that this bad one showed his true colors so we know hes not worth our time. I have an autistic brother and I love him to bits! I only want him to be surrounded by good people, sadly some bad people aren’t always this obvious.

  7. People used to come up to me and ask if my son was autistic or “special”. He wasn’t. He was assessed many times and not once did ASD come up. Sensitive did. That people would just walk up to me and say that hurt. That people use it like in the above IM hurts. People are all just people. I can tell you that after 5 years working with autistic and others in group homes and schools, we are all the same. We just express ourselves differently.

  8. Seems to me 50 cent is the one with special needs. His words are so ignorant it is not even funny. He should consider himself blessed that any autistic person would even want to speak with him.

  9. Our words are like a double edged sword, on one side of the blade the word could be funny to a person, but on the other side of the blade is a person with a disability like me and that word is not only offensive but hurtful. I am a higher function person with an Intellectual disability, but your cruel words, jokes, and comments hurt all the same. The Special Olympics has a R-Word campaign to stop the use of the R-Word. If you want to take the pledge please go to Many famous people have agreed not to use the R-word.

  10. Hmm not a fan of 50 cent at all, and i have two disabled siblings so im not hating but any moron could tell you that is fake. A famous person would not throw there whole career away over twitter…

  11. Well, as the mother of a son with autism…I will make SURE that not one single cent of our “special ed/autistic” money ends up in 50cent’s pockets, via his music, movies, clothing or any other organization he is involved with. And I will enlist my family and friends to join me in the boycott as well. Let’s speak a language he can understand….money.

  12. I grew up in the 70s with a disabled sibling who was considered a freak. I had no friends, people were hateful and mean. Now, many of those kids have disabled kids of their own, and everyone is screaming about rights, etc. Where were they all 30 years ago??? Making fun of people like me and my sister. Everyone should remember: there but for the grace of God go I….

  13. People should become educated on People First Language. Students with disabilities are incredible and loving. However, our society is very arrogant and most feel as though they can call people names if they are not “normal”. Besides what is normal anyway? Just a setting on a washing machine if you ask me.

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