When People Talk Down to Me Because of My Disability
If you see a person who has an apparent physical disability (someone who uses a wheelchair, for example) don’t immediately assume they have an intellectual disability. Don’t walk up to them and ask them a demeaning question in a childlike voice — it gets really annoying. Treat them like a human being who is quite capable of many things.
Since I have cerebral palsy and use a power chair, it is not out of the ordinary for a stranger to walk up to me and start treating me like a child. Believe me, it happens a lot. I could write a whole book on my experiences. But I don’t get angry with the person. In fact, I usually just answer whatever foolish question they ask me and laugh about it later with my mom. This has happened so many times, it’s become a comical aspect of my everyday life. The more ridiculous the question, the more hilarious it is.
It does make me extremely frustrated, though, to think this is a societal norm. People often see a wheelchair and immediately disregard the person in it. Disregard that they might have feelings or intelligence. That is something that annoys the heck out of me. Sometimes I want to talk back to the people who “talk down” to me. But number one: I don’t want to be rude. Number two: if they’re around me long enough, they’ll get the idea that I’m intelligent. Number three: they haven’t been taught any differently. Society has made them think this way. I’m hoping with time that will change.
I hope you take these words to heart, and that the next you encounter a situation like I’ve just mentioned, you approach the person with as much respect as you would any other person. I hope you see more than their disability. If you are the one receiving belittlement, I challenge you (and myself as well) to approach people in a polite manner, while at the same time giving them a glimpse of the abilities you possess. Let’s change the societal norm.
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