Have you ever met someone and didn’t know what to say? Well this happens to everyone at some point, but have you ever met someone with a disability and didn’t know what to say or how to talk to them? Well apparently this happens to people on a regular basis.
Growing up I had a pretty normal life, I went to mainstream school, college, university, I fought with my siblings, had my heart broken, missed curfews and wasted money on useless junk but sometimes it feels like none of this matters as some people still don’t see past the chair. Rather than being bitter I now just smile (and occasionally laugh) and bless the people when it’s all they can see. When I say ‘can’t see past the chair’ I’m talking about the people that judge me or think that people with disabilities can’t do/have normal everyday things. So I thought I’d write a list of some of the most common/stupid things that either have been said or happen to me a regular basis (or just the funny ones)
- “I’d love to be in a wheelchair”
Right, I’m not one to wallow in self pity but no you wouldn’t! My disability is only physical but I often get treated like I’m a child or stupid. This is because I sit in a piece of metal for 16 hours a day. As much as being in a wheelchair has the odd perk, having a numb bum is not my idea of heaven.
- “For a disabled person you’re pretty funny”
I hope they meant funny as in humorous and not funny to look at (because sometimes it can be both!) but just because someone might be disabled doesn’t mean they lose the inability to tell a joke or be funny, Look at Jack Carol from Britain’s Got Talent last year!
- When shop assistants/waiters or (insert other customer service personnel) refuses to acknowledge me.
This is not Okay, If you work in these types of job then it’s crucial you treat customers with respect. I’m not stupid so will you please acknowledge me.
- “I didn’t know disabled people have sex”
This also includes the question can you have sex? This one makes me laugh the most, the answer is YES!! Many disabled people do manage to have a healthy sex life, again, we are just people! There are many questions/comments I get around this subject but all I say is, Yes I can, thanks for asking!
- “I know someone in a wheelchair, do you know them?”
Probably not. Having a disability doesn’t mean you know everyone that also has one. it’s not an exclusive club where we all know each other! We don’t always get on just because we have a disability either. I’ve met some people with a disability I cannot stand, (usually those who pity themselves and are bitter), I don’t have time to wallow and be negative!
- “Do you sleep in the chair?”
I have been known to have a nap, but no us wheelies don’t. We have beds 🙂
- “You dress/look nice for someone in your position”
Again, disability doesn’t affect my ability to choose how I look. Some disabled people have to dress according to their needs and i.e loose fitting clothing, joggers etc. I do also have to take this into account but it doesn’t mean I can’t make an effort when it comes to my appearance. My friends will tell you I spend a small fortune on clothes, make up and hair. Remember if you think you look good you feel good!
- “You can’t have a career in media, it’s too fast paced”
This was said to me at an interview for media production course at college. I’m kicking myself because at the time I didn’t say anything to this idiot! Never accept discrimination like that! I left the interview sobbing but I returned to the college where I was originally, and did a media production course there, left after a year to do a degree. yes some parts of the media are fast paced but this doesn’t mean that we disabled people shouldn’t work or be represented in the media! Thank you to all tutors that saw straight past my chair and saw a person with ideas and helped me build on them so I would have the skills in my professional life!
If you want something hard enough, you will work at it and not let anything get in your way!
These questions/comments are just a small handful of things that get said on a regular basis… I do answer questions but I am more than just a wheelchair, I’m a woman who has a wicked sense of humour!
And That’s it!