Being disabled, it took me a long time before I could even let someone call me that. I never say myself as disabled because I don’t use a handicap plate, I don’t always use a cane, and I don’t feel like I am. But over the years, I have had some things said to me that wasn’t exactly the best thing that should have been said. Here are a few examples
“But you don’t look handicap”
This is always been my favorite. I don’t look a certain way so I’m not? Or is it that I don’t look to that degree of handicap? I’ve never asked anyone what that means but to me that means that I am faking it and not handicap enough. Even the fact that some days I can’t get out of bed without help, and some days I can’t get out of bed at all doesn’t matter. The fact that I can’t bend over and pick something up, no matter what it is, I can’t bend over. Isn’t that essential meaning of being handicap? Not being able to do something that the majority of mankind can? Next time you want to say that to someone, stop and think about what exactly you are saying.
“You look good for being handicap”
I look good for being handicap is just about as bad as the first one. Well you know what, you look good for being stupid. How would that make you feel? Because it makes me feel horrible that someone has the right to “judge” how I am looking based on the fact that I am handicap. Most of the time, people don’t realize that I am handicap unless I let them know this by using my cane around them and I have to be pretty comfortable with you before I pull out that piece of metal.
“What’s wrong with you” or “where you born that way”
There is so much that I want to say to this one. Was I born this way, no, but that is none of your business. Maybe state it in a way that is more like “Can I ask what happened”. Softer, easier to hear when they are asking for permission to find out why your our different. Some people aren’t always so open about discussing what happened or if they were born this way. My father who has been in a wheelchair for a while always have people wondering what is wrong with him, and some even ask if its permanent. Honestly, if dad wants to talk about it, then that is his business.
Speaking slowly and loudly to someone in a wheelchair.
There are so many things wrong with this that it’s almost laughable. Why would anyone think that a person is in wheelchair is automatically deaf? Are they blind too? If anything they want to be deaf or blind so that the person saying this isn’t there anymore. Get real! A common misconception is that people with physical disabilities, such as a motor or sensory impairment, also have other disabilities, particularly mental disabilities. Please don’t make that assumption unless it is known that is what is the disability.
“I don’t even think of you as a person with a disability.”
People with disabilities and advocates debate whether this is a “compliment” or an insult; however, many warn that it can come across as degrading a person. I think that it is meant to come across as a compliment but trust me, it doesn’t. I would rather someone would ignore the fact that I’m disable and not meant it.
Those of us with a disability, don’t mean to make anyone uncomfortable and for the most part would rather not to have you speak about it. My mother always taught me to think before I speak and that is all we are asking you to do. If you are questioning whether or not you should say something, then odds are that you shouldn’t. Just say hi and if we feel comfortable enough with our disability, then we will offer up information. IF that doesn’t happen, then don’t ask is the best policy.