You may think you understand how a disabled person feels, but chances are that you don’t (unless you yourself are handicapped). Sure, you know they may struggle with accessibility in bathrooms. You may even feel like you understand their struggle to perform normal activities, but it’s so much more than that.
The stigmas that come with being physically or mentally disabled can be hard, and they may find it difficult to have stable relationships, to communicate, to secure a job or even to communicate with family members. Not only do they have to deal with some people treating them differently, but they also struggle with accessibility and mobility.
Here are six struggles that people with disabilities face:
- Having someone congratulate them or pity them for the simplest tasks: Yes. It is hard for them to reach the cereal on the top of the refrigerator, but you don’t need to applaud them for it. You also don’t need to pity them. While it may be more difficult for them, they only want to feel normal and don’t want to be praised for something anyone can do. Everything is not an inspiration.
- Relationships are difficult for people who are physically or mentally disabled. Some people can’t get past the barrier or don’t feel up to the challenge, so often times it can be difficult to be taken seriously. Treat them how you would everyone else. Don’t hold back or overcompensate for the sake of their feelings.
- Don’t say things like “I know it must be hard.” Don’t be patronizing or pretend to understand. Chances are you don’t understand how they feel, and it’s okay if you don’t.
- No one likes to be teased. Disabled people often get bullied or teased just for existing. It’s more than just frustrating to them; it’s hurtful. It doesn’t matter if it’s visible or not. They just want to be treated with kindness and respect.
It’s 2016, and there are still buildings and bathrooms without accessibility.
- People with disabilities often times try to go somewhere and need help going up the stairs because there is no ramp. It’s frustrating that all buildings and bathrooms still don’t have accessibility to people who are physically disabled.
- Getting stared at. No one likes to be stared at as if they’re strange or an alien, so don’t do it to a disabled person. Often times, people will gawk at a child or adult with autism, cerebral palsy or even limb amputations. They’re still people and don’t want to feel like a sideshow attraction.
If you have a loved one, friend or even meet a stranger with a disability, treat them like you would any one else. Don’t talk down to them or speak to them as if they are simple-minded. Don’t patronize them and treat them like a human being, because that is all they truly want.
Photo Credit: Sodanie Chea