Ok, I have to be honest with you. The idea for this blog came from the daily frustrations of being handicapped- or “crippled,” as I tend to refer to myself in good humor. I’m in a chair the vast majority of the time, which makes me short and surprisingly invisible to a lot of people. Before I started in with the really hard symptoms of curled hands and loss of balance, I was highly independent. I could navigate through crowds and hold attention without making people uncomfortable. I mean, I was the second in command of a 100-student battalion in JROTC. Commanding attention was my thing. Those days are over, and despite the society conundrum, I’m transitioning pretty well. But people are people, and from my perspective, there are three general types:
Those who are courteous and seem more at ease
Those who are courteous and seem uncomfortable
Those who prefer to ignore
These are only generalizations pulled from my personal experience. Through this blog, I hope to encourage those who seem uncomfortable feel more at ease. I understand that I am not normal, and that my abnormality can make people uneasy. Many people don’t know how to act. They’re worried about offending me or people like me. You see, the ones who seem uncomfortable are putting forth effort, so I want to help and maybe ease their way.
The following list is comprised of general tips and guidelines that will hopefully help you feel more comfortable when speaking with people like me (with disabilities).
- Be polite. It might be easier if you remember that I’m a person not a disability.
- Please speak to me directly. Don’t speak about me to my companion. It is rude and irritating, and it makes me feel awkward.
- Please don’t treat me as if I am less competent mentally.
- It’s definitely okay to ask if I need help, but please don’t push the offer if I decline.
- If you want to know what’s ailing me, ask. If I would rather not discuss it, please don’t push further.
- When you introduce me to someone, use my name. Please don’t introduce my disability along with my name.
- Please don’t take it upon yourself to move my chair without permission. It causes me to feel unsafe. If I am in the way, just say “excuse me”. I’ll gladly move.
- Please don’t assume that because I am in a chair that I cannot make my own decisions.
- Please be patient. It takes me a little longer to do things.
This list may get longer as time goes on, it may not. Time will tell. Until time does tell however, I really appreciate the time and effort it takes for you to read these posts, process the information, save it, and put it to use. And, if you have anything you’d like to add, or any points you’d like to dispute, I’m interested in listening.
Have a smile on me!