As a lot of you will know I’m looking to set up my own disability awareness training business so over the last few months I’ve been attending some business training courses. Being on these courses has brought up a number of questions about what I do and don’t find acceptable when it comes to my disability, this has got me to thinking how awkward or uncomfortable certain people feel when it comes to disability because they don’t know how to act for the best. Every disability and every person with a disability is different so I’m not saying that my list of do’s and don’t’s will fit everybody but they are definitely important too me.
- Do ask questions – I know certain people don’t feel comfortable answering questions about their disability but for me I’d much rather some one ask about my disability than just sit there wondering.
- Do speak directly to me – I’ve been out on numerous occasions either just in the street or at appointments and someone will look right at me but then speak directly to my parents like I’m not even in the room, I have a disability that doesn’t mean you can’t talk to me.
- Do act normal – I am a human being just like anyone else, I don’t need any kind of special treatment just treat me like you would any other person.
- Do see any mobility aids as part of my personal space – Weather it be walking sticks or a wheelchair, it is part of the person so don’t lean all over it or move it without asking the person. I wouldn’t come a pick you up and carry you off so please don’t push my wheelchair without asking me.
- Do think before you speak – I’ve always been told to think before I speak and this is a saying some people have never heard because I’ve been asked and heard so many ridiculous things when it comes to my disability and if people just took a second to think before they speak then this awkwardness wouldn’t happen.
- Don’t make assumptions – One of my biggest bugs is when someone knows one disabled person or one person with Cerebral Palsy so they just assume they know me and how I am.
- Don’t patronize me – I’ve had so many people who see my disability then for some reason think they need to speak to me like I’m a child, I’m 25 years old my disability does not effect that.
- Don’t help me without asking – This may sound a bit harsh as I know people will think they’re being kind by helping and I’m grateful that people want to help me but I can’t stand it when someone comes over and just takes over or starts doing something for me without asking do I need their help.
- Don’t tap or touch me – This one actually makes me laugh and I genuinely don’t understand it, would you go up to a stranger and tap their head? No so why is acceptable if the person is disabled? Let’s be honest it’s not it’s just disrespectful!
- Don’t single me out of conversations – I remember being in college and being sat with a group of girls who decided to leave me out of a conversations about boyfriends because they assumed I didn’t have a boyfriend because I was disabled, which of course isn’t true! If I don’t won’t to be involved in a conversation I am more than capable of letting you know.
So I hope that this short list helps anyone out there who may be struggling when it comes to interacting with people with a disability and please remember the most important thing is that we’re just like anybody other person! Interacting with someone with a disability shouldn’t be a big deal!