People With Disabilities Just Want to Live Life
People with disabilities live in a world designed primarily for the able-bodied. People with disabilities want to live life no differently than anyone else. They want to be able to go shopping, go to the movies, go out to eat, work, and enjoy life, fully realizing that must be done within the boundaries of their limitations.
Accepting disability and redefining life within the limitations imposed by disease is the biggest hurdle for people with disabilities. There are harsh realities. Expensive equipment and medications may be required. Mobility scooters, adapted vans, voice-recognition software, orthotics, medical treatment, and myriad types of assistive equipment improve daily living for people with disabilities but it all comes at a price. While life becomes more expensive, too often the ability to work diminishes. Financial security takes a big hit. An uncertain future can make a person fearful.
Adjust and Adapt
Adapt and adjust becomes the mantra of a person living with a disability. People with disabilities may be forced to change careers or not work at all. They may be forced to relinquish some of their independence.
There are experiences some able-bodied people may take for granted which people with disabilities must forgo. Disabled people may miss out on the joy of rough-housing with children, playing competitive sports, traveling, or taking long road-trips. Crowded events become daunting. Social situations become uncomfortable. The question becomes - do you put yourself out there or risk being covered by the veil of isolation?
Subtle Realities Vs. Harsh Realities
What can be more frustrating than harsh realities are subtle realities for people with disabilities. Living with disability is difficult but can sting even more when other people are impatient, rude, insensitive, inconsiderate, pessimistic, or unhelpful.
Impatient people try to rush people with disabilities through life. A man who was behind me in the grocery line one day tried to unload my cart for me. The gesture would have been welcome if it had been rooted in kindness, but it was obvious I was moving too slow for him in this fast-paced world we live in.
Inconsiderate people can be found using handicapped bathroom stalls and handicapped parking spots, facilities specifically designated for people with disabilities. Inconsiderate people do not hold doors open, a simple action that can make things much easier for a disabled person.
Rude and insensitive people are often found staring at people with disabilities. They seem to not like what they see, or imagine themselves in the role of the disabled person. It creates an uncomfortable situation unless you ignore the person who is staring.
Demanding people and those who lack understanding about the realities of your disability can also be provoking. A friend of mine had a surgical procedure which restricted her driving for a period of time. My friend's mother called to tell her she needed to go to the store, disregarding the restrictions that were given to my friend. She had to tell her mother she couldn't help her.
Pessimistic people can annoy and be hurtful. Pessimistic people focus on the negative aspects of having a disability instead of trying to build up, encourage, and praise the accomplishments of people with disabilities. Pessimistic or negative people don't want to learn about the realities of living with disability. They have preconceived ideas and often treat physically disabled people as if they are faking or lazy. Even worse, negative people sometimes treat physically disabled people as if they have no abilities at all.
Unhelpful people are yet another category of people who can annoy and frustrate disabled people. For able-bodied people, most tasks are effortless. The same task for a disabled person is perhaps an impossibility. Changing light bulbs or air conditioner filters, scrubbing showers, getting a large load of groceries - it's just part of daily living. Who does it for the disabled person, especially one who has collected on all of the favors owed to them?
Surround Yourself With Positivity
What you can control, whether you are able-bodied or disabled, is yourself. All humans face challenges, it's just that people with disabilities face different challenges. You will not rid the world of impatient, rude, insensitive people, but you can control how you react to them.
- Impatient people cause you to be more patient.
- Insensitive people cause you to be more sensitive.
- Negative people cause you to react with positivity.
For each negative person you encounter, you have many more positive encounters. Surround yourself with people, things, and experiences which make you feel good and do good. Do you deserve less than that?