United Kingdom and Ireland
However, the word began to be used as an insult and became a term of abuse used to imply stupidity or physical ineptness: one who is uncoordinated or incompetent, or a fool. It was often colloquially abbreviated to shorter forms such as "spaz". As a neighbouring English-speaking country, the insult spread to Ireland also and became one of the most prominent and insulting terms used in playgrounds.
Its derogatory use grew considerably in the 1980s. This is sometimes attributed to the BBC children's show Blue Peter. During the International Year of Disabled Persons (1981), several episodes featured a man with cerebral palsy (described as a "spastic") named Joey Deacon. Phrases such as "joey", "deacon", and "spaz" became popular insults amongst children at that time.
The Spastics Society changed its name to Scope in 1994. The words then gradually dropped out of common usage as the majority of British society came to regard them as offensive and politically incorrect.
The current understanding of the word is well-illustrated by a BBC survey in 2003, which found that "spastic" was the second most offensive term in the UK relating to disability (retard was deemed most offensive). In 2007, Lynne Murphy, a linguist at the University of Sussex, described the term as being "one of the most taboo insults to a British ear".
Read more about this topic: Spastic
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