5 Things only part time wheelchair users understand
People use wheelchairs for many different reasons and not everyone needs to use them full-time. Some people who have physical disabilities are able to walk with crutches and may only need them for long distances while others may have severe joint pain. When you are a full-time wheelchair user some things come easier to you than they would for a part-time wheelchair user because you have more practice. Everyone has a different experience. Here are a few things I am hoping that most part-time wheelchair users will understand.
Crashing into everything
When you are a part-time wheelchair user you don’t have as much practice at driving your chair than a full-time wheelchair user does which means you crash a lot more! I have lost count how many time I have driven straight into a pole because I was preoccupied with something else or misjudged the amount of space I had to get through. Full-time wheelchair users become experts at navigating their chairs because they have to and are in them almost one-hundred percent of the time. So they get extra practice that part-time wheelchair users might not get.
Accused of faking your disability
Luckily my disability is very pronounced so I never had to worry about someone accusing me of faking my disability. When you see a part-time wheelchair user get out of their chair and start walking normally it can be very tempting to start making false accusations of them because they don’t appear to be disabled. We need to stop accusing people of faking their disabilities when we don’t know them personally. There are probably more invisible disabilities than visible disabilities. Although there may be some people that sit in a wheelchair to get free stuff, the vast majority do not and have legitimate disabilities you cannot see. It is hurtful when people accuse you of faking your disability without knowledge, so stop doing it!
When people fall on you
One of the most frustrating things as a wheelchair user is when people fall on you and continue to sit there. Get off, I am not a chair for you to sit on when you get tired! Accidents happen and if you trip and fall on me I will not hold anything against you for it but get up immediately and apologize. I am a person too, so please respect my personal boundaries and don’t continue to sit on my lap. My chair is my personal space and when you don’t get up after you fall you are invading it.
My seat in my wheelchair is pretty comfortable for the most part but it’s only a manual wheelchair. It doesn’t do anything fancy because I don’t need to use it one-hundred percent of the time. My chair does not recline like some full-time wheelchair users chairs do so it can get pretty uncomfortable when I need to sit in it for an extended period of time.
People that can’t steer a chair to save their life
There are many reasons why I would prefer to push myself than to have someone push me. But one of the most common is that you don’t know what type of driver you are going to get. Some people are very reckless and can’t drive in a straight line if their life depended on it. Others are too careful and push incredibly slow. If I had to choose between the two I’d much rather have a incredibly slow driver than a reckless one because I’m not in a gokart, you know. When you volunteer to push someone’s wheelchair and are jerky and always crashing into stuff it is very inconsiderate of the person who has to experience it. You never know if you are hurting them by driving that way or if they even like it. Just push safely and at a normal speed. It is really that simple!
My greatest accessibility tool is my crutches because I use them most of the time. But without my wheelchair I would not be able to go anywhere that required me to walk any significant distance. I may not need my wheelchair full-time but it is definitely a necessity. Without it I would not be able to do very many things with friends and family because I get exhausted much quicker than an average person. My disability limits me from a lot of activities but my wheelchair makes some of them possible.
Full-time and part-time wheelchair users – what do you struggle with?
*Thank you to Sarah for a great guest post! Please check out her blog and support her work!*