Disability, lifestyle, and nerdy thoughts.

4 Things disabled people want you to know

A ton of people I’ve talked to have admitted that being around disabled people makes them nervous. We might look, sound, or act different but interacting with us doesn’t have to be a big deal. That’s lesson number one. Here are four more things you might like to keep in mind.

Conversations between abled and disabled people don’t need to be awkward or anything out of the norm, but a lot of times they end up being strained. The other day when I was at Target a girl was staring at me and when I locked eyes with her, she panicked, turned to my mom, and said: “I like those pants on her.” We all know she wasn’t staring at my shorts. I wasn’t offended or anything, but I’m just a person. I’m usually wearing PJs and wondering what show I’ll binge on Netflix next. There’s pretty much nothing intimidating about me as a human.

A ton of people I’ve talked to have admitted that being around disabled people makes them nervous. Whether it’s because they haven’t been around wheelchairs a lot or they’re afraid of being offensive, there‘s always a reason. Usually a silly one, at least to me. We might look, sound, or act different but interacting with us doesn’t have to be a big deal.

That’s lesson number one. Here are four more things you might like to keep in mind.

We’re just like you in a lot of ways

So show us some respect. Having a disability might be something you can’t relate to, but there are a million other aspects that make up a person. I’m sure that there‘s plenty you can find to talk about that don’t include wheelchairs or doctors.

People always want to ask me why I can’t walk, but after I answer they have no idea where to go from there. And then it’s awkward. I’m a 26 year old woman, guys! I can talk about the newest episode of The Good Place like you would with anyone else, or about politics, or about my weekend plans. Don’t overthink it so much.

We Do Alright For Ourselves

No matter how much crap someone is dealing with, how sick they are or how much difficulty they’re having in a situation – don’t approach a disabled person with a sense of pity. It’s not what anyone needs, and it’s not going to work out well.

There’s a lot of things that our community has to think about that abled people might not have to. And yeah, a lot of it sucks. Things like federal and state benefits, finding a personal injury lawyer, accessibility, fighting with insurance companies, and ableism. That being said, we also know what we’re doing. We know how to handle and it, and if we don‘t we’ll reach out for help. Trust that we can take care of ourselves, do our jobs, and live our lives. There is no need to pray for us. Just be a friend and show your support.

Don’t assume our abilities

In high school, a girl once asked my aide why I could talk. She literally thought that because I was in a wheelchair, I couldn’t speak or respond without help. Other wheelchair users can walk, but face harassment and sometimes even violence when they do so from people who think they’ve found a ‘faker’. Everyone experiences their disability differently, so just follow their lead instead of making assumptions.

Ask Before Helping

We all understand the urge to want to help. It’s usually appreciated, too! But it all depends on how you go about it. It might seem like a great idea to push someone’s wheelchair up a hill for them, but it can startle them, injure their hands, or they might simply be uncomfortable having someone other than themselves in control of their chair. The intentions might be innocent yet it’s not your decision whether you get to help. It’s down to the person whether they accept. As a rule, always ask because it’s the safest and most respectful option.

Long story short, disabled people are people, too. That’s all there is to it, really!

*This is a collaborative post and may contain affiliate links*


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