When we were out in the public, I started noticing disturbing reactions from some people. Most people were helpful and opened doors for me or let us pass first. But sometimes people would bump into me when passing; they never stopped to apologize. They didn’t seem to have much patience if I was in front of them. They didn’t realize how awkward it is to try to go around objects or get into an elevator.
When you first become disabled, you have to learn how to get used to being disabled, what you can or cannot do, how many people were in your life that walked away because they didn’t understand or accept this wheel chair, then you have to learn how to do things differently as the disease progresses
People don’t know how to communicate with someone in a wheelchair at times. Some people treat me as being mentally disabled because I’m in a wheelchair. Some people just pass me by as if they don’t see me. They sometimes hit my feet or legs when they’re close to me. They think I don’t have feelings there, but let me tell you I do.
People should try to imagine what it is like to be in a wheelchair, I wish other adults would treat me like an adult. I really like kids. They will come up close and talk to me.
Being disabled and having a service dog by my side has made my life more open and I enjoy people asking about my service dog, it’s my chance of educating people about my life and how my service dog has made my life full once more. I feel some people are afraid to ask about my life or my service dog and that is sad because they would learn to understand so much more about the disabled. I am 90 percent disabled since 2003. My condition worsening, but I’m still going and will continue with my life the best I can and live it to the fullest.
I do not want sympathy. I understand that it’s difficult for some people to know what to say. We do not want to be treated like an invisible person, avoided entirely or stared at. We do not want to be talked down to. If you accidentally bump into a disabled person, just apologize. Some people are not paralyzed and have feelings in their body, arms and legs.
If you pass a person with a disability, give him or her big smile. Most of us need a smile in our direction every so often. If you would like to converse with someone in a wheelchair, it would help if you can find a place to sit down and talk at eye level, and be straight in front of the person so he or she doesn’t have to turn to see you.
Don’t ignore people in wheelchairs as if they are invisible, and don’t look away from them as you pass by. Acknowledge them with a “Hello, good to see you. How are you?” Remember to treat people with disabilities like you want to be treated.
Realize, too, some people with disabilities may be physically in pain, depressed or suffering from emotional problems. Some may have mental disabilities and may not be able to
communicate. They may not want to engage in a conversation at this time. You can still acknowledge them with a smile, a nod of the head or a simple greeting as you pass by.
We need to understand that most people with disabilities are just like everyone, with similar feelings, thoughts and desires.
Some young children do not seem to have much of a problem communicating with people with disabilities. Maybe we need to imitate these children in this respect and not hold back on going to a person with disabilities and just start talking with him or her.
If you’re curious about something most people with disabilities or who have service dogs will be very willing to answer questions you may have, just remember, always asked before you try to pet a working service dog. This service dog has a serious job to do and if it is distracted it could cause problems with alerts for his or her owner.