The Worst Thing You Can Do When Socially Interacting With Someone Who Has A Disability

I can’t begin to tell you how frustrating having a disability can be, but in saying that I feel like I am preaching to the choir on this one. I don’t mean to complain, but I am forever looking up at people because the reality is having a disability means I am naturally positioned physically lower than the rest of society, in my wheelchair. My parents, and extended family for the most part are six feet tall, so again I am looking up.

Recently I was at a conference and one of the presenters naturally dropped to his knees so he was at my natural eye level, when he came to speak with me directly, I can’t remember the last time I have been at eye level with someone unless they too are sitting.

I don’t mind looking up that’s just my norm, what annoys me more because it’s plain ridiculous in my opinion, is the proverbial patting on the head. Yes, if you must know I have actually been both physically and symbolically patted on the head. I don’t understand why people see my wheelchair and this is their natural response. It simply makes them look ridiculous. Can someone please enlighten me as why people do this. The only thing I can think is that my wheelchair makes them a little bit socially uncomfortable, so this is their knee jerk reaction but I don’t know! I generally find it humorous but none the less annoying.

Have you or your child ever actually been physically patted on the head? Would love to 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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3 Responses to The Worst Thing You Can Do When Socially Interacting With Someone Who Has A Disability

  1. Lisa says:

    Oh as a young child I was patted on my head when I was in a wheelchair after surgery. But now the condescending tone strangers talk to me is annoying. They have that annoying tone like talking to a child. I’m sorry you go through this.

    Double Kudos to the presenter!

  2. Crip Video says:

    Some disabled people prefer the able bodied not kneel down to be at eye level with them.

  3. Kate says:

    I think it’s because most non-disabled people see us as permanent children, and treat us that way. Non-disabled people are constantly surprised that I live alone, work, have a degree, drive a car etc.

    I don’t mind if people sit/kneel down to talk to me, but I DO mind if they lean on my wheels – or worse, on me (as it’s painful).

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