have the courage to be different

physical disability

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The reality is that living with a visible physical disability can be hard, and humans are curious. Well-meaning people stare and have been known to gawk and give looks of pity. I know this can be frustrating but when you slow down and stop and think as to why they are staring answer is they are curious.

physical disability: it’s time to celebrate our differences

To quote Canadian singer Amanda Marshall “Everybody has a story” this is a very true statement. Look at the next stranger you see and describe them to yourself. Sure you can draw assumptions but do you really know someone until you get to know them. Being in a wheelchair or walking with a limp or in some other way having a physical disability all makes these assumptions more apparent to others.

I hate assumptions, especially from adults. I think adults assume things because they don’t want to come across as impolite or rude by asking questions. The problem with this is that there is no one reason as to why a person has a physical disability.

I love the curiosity of children. What is hard is when they innocently ask the adult that they are with why I am in a wheelchair and then I overhear the adult explain that my physical disability was because of some tragic accident. I would much rather educate today’s kids that not everyone who uses a wheelchair uses one because they were in an accident. I mean my physical disability is something I have always had and never known any other way of life.

Do you get frusterated when people stare or do you see it as an opportunity to educate others?  Let me know in the comments below


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About lifeofthedifferentlyabled

Laura Forde founded her blog through my eyes: my life with cerebral palsy in December 2009 out of a great need she had, realizing that there was a vast gap in firsthand accounts of what life was like living with Cerebral Palsy: she knew then that the only way to see this reflected online was to create the change herself and thus this blog was born Laura was born four months premature, weighing a mere one pound three ounces and given ten percent odds for survival. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of three. After graduating from college, she continued writing and doing what she loves to do most; speaking to groups about her life experiences and sharing what she has learned from her journey. Her blog lifeofthedifferentlyabled was created after discovering that the online community lacked the voice of people in her situation. In its first year, the site saw over 20,000 hits from all over the world. Her readers are from all walks of life; some with disabilities, parents of children, professionals, and others who seek to gain a better understanding of the world of the differently abled. You can follow her on Twitter or Facebook
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4 Responses to have the courage to be different

  1. I don’t know how may times that I’ve been asked if I had polio. Their ignorance frustrated me. When my child was little her classmates and friends would ask and it was hard to explain but I figured out a response when a child would ask, “Why do you walk funny?” My response was, “God made me walk this way just like he made you walk the way you do’ I figured out if I went into an explanation of CP they totally would not understand.

    As for adults, I think it is curiosity and ignorance. I always wished people would ask me in a discreet way instead of staring and gawking. It is just rude, regardless if you have a disability.

    I worked in a nursing home and the elderly would say, “Oh you poor thing, you have polio” I wanted to pull my hair out

    When people gawk, like walking staring at me bumping or nearly bumping into others or objects I stare back and watch. Sometimes some people literally will stop and gawk. A few times Hubby has even commented more under his breath but at a volume they can hear, “Wanna take a picture, it’ll last longer” or “Geez stop staring.: Depending on my mood, I react different ways. I stare back until they make eye contact. It usually embarrasses them and they move on. Sometimes I will say the same thing as husband. And other times I will cock my head and say, “Yes?”

    As I get older I just chalk up the stares and rude comments to ignorance. I am more tolerant and it does not affect me as much.

  2. Allison says:

    I’m a little more sensitive when people treat me like a baby with their comments, like I can hear it in the tone of their voice. It’s obvious they don’t see me as an adult, even though I’m almost 22 and physically look the same as any other 22 year old, with the exception of the wheelchair. People’s comments and stares make me feel awkward. And there’s little kids; they either get mad at their child for asking about me or blow them off…but a small portion of parents answer their child with sensible answers. I wish all parents would answer their children’s curiosities at their age level, and honestly. If children’s inquiries are answered, then they won’t spend the rest of their lives wondering why people are in wheelchairs and they will be more educated as they enter adulthood.

    I’m still trying to learn how to deal with comments/stares and converse with people because I’m an introvert and I lack in social confidence. I had a professor in college recently who would address my personal care attendant about why I’m in a wheelchair instead of speaking to me directly and I’m sure she had a reason, but it made me feel so angry. And this wasn’t the only time, this was one of many comments not directed to me but about me. It made me feel like I was a third invisible person. Sometimes it was even in front of the whole class! Oh boy did I feel singled out. I tried and tried to muster up the confidence to approach the professor about it, but since I’m a person who “doesn’t like to rock the boat” I (tried) to let go. And when I asked people in my family for advice, they just kind of blew it off and excused her and said “oh she’s just crazy”. But unfortunately, the feelings of anger mounted and built inside of me until I had a bit of an episode one day. All of my frustrations mounted and I felt this horrible feeling that I’m not understood, and I was very sad and felt very alone and confused about how I felt and how I was reacting.

    What remains is this question, should I speak up for myself (in a polite but firm manner) and assert my individuality as an adult or should I respect the opinions of my parents whom I live and whom constantly care for me…if they suggest I not “rock the boat” and just let things go?

    Thank you for all of your help through your posts and videos. Keep it up because you rock!

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