Disclaimer: I'm merely relating what I feel or have heard other disabled people express. As for ANY group, there's no one-size-fits-all answer/approach.
1. Do not talk about us, around us.
My husband is a smart man, but he can't read my mind. Don't ask him questions about what I want, like, etc. Ask me! (If the disabled person cannot communicate, it doesn't mean he/she doesn't understand, so still address him/her and let the person with him/her answer only if necessary.)
2. Do not use baby talk.
It's demeaning and makes everyone involved look silly.
3. Do not ask about my sex life.
You'd be surprised how many strangers feel entitled to a disabled person's private business. Good rule of thumb: If you wouldn't ask an able-bodied person, don't ask a disabled one, either.
4. Don't say I'm inspirational for living.
I'm trying to have a good life. So are you. We all do what we can. People who see disabled people as motivation are dehumanizing us. We are not your slogan for how life could be worse. (And really don't say you'd kill yourself if you were in my shoes.)
5. Don't tell us you know more about our disability than we do.
Bad form, that one. Unless you have a medical degree, don't even attempt it. If you have one, I still wouldn't count on you being correct.
6. Don't refer to us as parasites, mooches, etc.
If I could work, I would. Being on the dole is NOT a cushy life. It's poverty, plainly. You must make painful decisions about what gets paid when. You're never certain everything will be all right month-to-month. And, honestly, I didn't know human worth was measured by the dollar.
7. Don't treat our family members like martyrs.
Yes, there are difficulties with having a disabled child/spouse/sibling. Our caretakers often need (and deserve) breaks and to talk. But we are not black pits of despair. This way of thinking makes it seem logical, even necessary, for family and caretakers to murder us because "those poor people just couldn't handle the burden".
8. Don't tell someone he/she doesn't look disabled.
You're not an insurance fraud investigator. So many illnesses, diseases, and disabilities are not seen outright.
9. Don't park in the handicapped spaces.
I understand temptation. But some people need them. You would want one open if you were disabled and had to go inside.
10. Don't shame your children for curiosity.
If you silence them and pull them away, you're ensuring your children will see disabled people as odd, subhuman, or spooky. Let them ask questions, of the disabled person or you. How you react will teach your children so much.
11. Don't automatically rush to help.
Thank you for your concern, really. I understand this comes from a nice place. But, when you run up to us, you're also assuming we can't do it alone. Maybe you're right. But, we'll ask you if we need it. If you feel the need, please ask if we need assistance before doing anything.
12. Don't assume all disabled people want a cure.
Some do, some don't, and others are unsure. Everyone has reasons for feeling as they do and all are legitimate.
13. Don't tell us a positive attitude will "fix" our lives.
No attitude will solve every difficulty, even by half. Being surly and miserable is no way to live, to be sure, but still.
I'm certain there are more things I've forgotten. I'm positive I didn't articulate every point flawlessly.
If you have questions, ask away. As long as they are genuine, I welcome them.
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