When you start a blog and don’t have many posts up it is very easy to remember each message of each blog post! Eventually, you will get to a point where I am at and have well over two hundred posts and some of those messages will be forgotten. Sometimes the messages in a blog are not that important so it’s okay to forget but if you are trying to spread awareness about a disability you want to do your best to make sure your readers don’t forget the important stuff. I have many blog posts with good messages and I always encourage you to go back and revisit old posts but if you don’t have the time to do that I will share a few things that I have talked about in previous blog posts that I think you should make an effort to remember.
Wheelchair-bound is such a negative term- In my experience as a disabled person, the only people that use the word “wheelchair-bound” are abled people. Why do you think that is? It is because wheelchair-bound sounds so restrictive and negative that disabled people don’t like to refer to themselves in that way or somebody else. A wheelchair gives a disabled person independence so they can do more things for themselves and without assistance and without our chairs, we would be completely homebound. Our chairs are something to celebrate not pity over and when you use this term it sounds like we are being trapped so please stop using this term! Everyone has different ways of how they want to identify themselves and some people may not mind the term wheelchair-bound but a vast majority will and it is common courtesy to use the term the disabled person prefers.
You’re not entitled to someone’s disability- If a disabled person wants you to know about their disability then they will tell you otherwise it is none of your business. If a disabled person asked an abled person for their full medical history it would be frowned upon so why is it okay for abled people to ask personal questions to the disabled? You can ask a disabled person what their disability is politely but they don’t have to share that information with you just like you don’t have to share your medical status with a complete stranger. You can be curious about someone’s disability but some people are not comfortable sharing that information and you have to be willing to accept that because you are not entitled to it!
It’s impossible to pick out fakers- Sometimes when you see someone pull into a handicapped parking spot that doesn’t look disabled you might be half tempted to judge that person. Then after they pull into a handicapped parking spot and take a wheelchair out without any trouble you may be thinking “they are definitely not disabled”. Yes, some people will fake a disability to get a close parking spot but a vast majority will not and have legitimate disabilities that you cannot see. You don’t know if someone has an invisible disability like migraines or Fibromylagia that makes walking long distances difficult and it’s always nice when someone gives you the benefit of the doubt. The reality of it is no matter how long you have been disabled you can’t pick out a faker unless you ask and that is rude!
Unsolicited health advice is not helpful- Living in pain is frustrating but your unsolicited medical advice attempting to cure me is not helpful. I am constantly looking for new ways to treat my pain so any remedies you tell me I should try I most likely have heard of and tried. If my doctor who has a medical degree does not have a cure for my pain then what makes you think that you would? I understand your concern and that you just want to help but giving medical advice when it is not asked for is not helpful. When you do that disabled people generally just roll their eyes anyways and don’t take your advice! Why bother giving someone advice if they have no intention of taking it?
Disabled does not equal depression- Disabled people face many challenges and get frustrated on a daily basis but that does not mean we are depressed. Some disabled people may have depression but a lot of them do not and it’s unfair for you to assume all disabled people are depressed because it’s simply not true. Disabled people are not at any higher risk of getting depressed than an abled person would be but as a matter of fact, a lot of them are very happy with their lives. Disabled people face a lot of challenges but these challenges don’t always make us depressed and sometimes they make us stronger.
Accessibility is a problem everywhere you go- When you are disabled you expect everywhere you go to be inaccessible to some extent and it saddens me that we have to expect that. Places that should be accessible for a disabled person like doctor’s offices aren’t and it makes it difficult for disabled people to get into these buildings. Sometimes some places are so inaccessible disabled people avoid these places like the plague which saddens me because disabled people shouldn’t be avoiding places like doctors’ appointments because their doctor isn’t accessible. Abled people don’t understand accessibility to the extent a disabled person does and the only way we can begin to start to address this issue is to: Listen to disabled people!
How we identify is not up to you- Some disabled people prefer to call themselves differently-abled, or crippled but not all disabled people will be like these terms but some may, in fact, cringe when they hear it. You should never tell a disabled person how they should identify themselves just because it makes you more comfortable. Every disabled person prefers different terms and there is no right or wrong way to identify yourself but it should be up to the disabled person on what terms you use to identify that person. Find out how a disabled person wants to identify themselves and use that language because it helps us cope and learn to accept and embrace our disabilities.
It’s possible to be in a lot of pain and still smile- People who have chronic pain have to learn ways to adapt to pain because we have it all the time so even when our pain levels are high we are still smiling! When you are in a lot of pain you don’t have to be crying and begging for mercy because yes it is possible to be smiling and show no signs of being in excruciating pain. People with chronic pain do it all the time and as a matter of fact are experts at it so even though a chronic pain sufferer is smiling they are probably in more pain than you think.
I have so many good messages in my blogs that some of you may have already forgotten or thought twice about. If I don’t know you personally I won’t know if you are taking anything away from my blog but I hope you do because a lot of the things I talk about it are important and needs to be taught to others. One simple way you can do that is by changing your vocabulary and teaching others important things that you learn. I don’t like anything of importance to go unnoticed or forgotten so I hope you are doing your best to make a change. What messages have I taught do you think was most important? Is there anything you think I should put more emphasis on?