Autistic Teen Urges Peers to Stop Using ‘R’ Word

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Student delivers speech to peers

OREGON, Wis. -An Oregon High School student with autism is urging his peers to stop using a hurtful word.

David Thompson

“(Kids in school) said, ‘You’re a retard. You are,'” said David Thompson, a junior at Oregon High School. “And I said, ‘Excuse me?'”

Living with autism, Thompson said he has felt the pain of the “R” word too many times to stay quiet. It’s why he is urging his peers to “Spread the Word to End the Word.”

On Wednesday, Thompson gave a speech to several of his peers at school.

“I was nervous,” Thompson said of the speech. “I couldn’t sleep last night.”

“Five years ago, I would have never in a million years imagined that David would even consider doing something like this,” said his mother, Amy Verheyden. “He would come home from school and say, ‘Mom, somebody called me … ‘ and he would say the word.”

In his speech, Thompson told his fellow students that he wants a change at Oregon High School.

“I hear the ‘R’ word at least two times a day, and that needs to stop. And so I’m asking if you hear the ‘R’ word, and one of your friends says it, please tell them to stop it,” Thompson said. “And promise me that you will turn that ‘R’ word into Respect. That’s all I’m asking.”

Thompson’s speech was followed by applause from all who listened Wednesday.

“David gave a really great presentation,” said Natalie Sarcona, one of Thompson’s classmates. “Obviously, it’s a great message, and it means a lot to me because my sister has special needs.”

Thompson is an active member of Special Olympics, and he has traveled to Washington, D.C., on behalf of the organization. 

  • Copyright 2012 by Channel 3000. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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