You Don’t Know My Disability as Well as I Do

As I make my way through life with a disability, I learn what tasks I can and cannot do.  I know I cannot open the fridge with my hand, so I use my wooden spatula to push it open. I know I cannot do my hair, so I ask my mom to braid it or put it in a bun for me. I know I cannot buckle my seatbelt, so I ask my mom, or whoever I’m driving with, to do it for me.

Often when I ask someone to assist me in completing some sort of task, they seem shocked that I cannot do it myself.  There have been times where I ask someone to help me and they say, “I think you could do that if you tried.” When this happens, my only response is, “How do you know I haven’t tried?”

It shocks me that many other people think they know my body and my disability better than I do. If I thought I could open my own food, I wouldn’t have bothered asking for help — it’s much more convenient for everyone if I do things on my own, so why would I ever waste time asking for help if I didn’t really need it?

Because I enjoy being as independent as possible, I try doing things without help often, and I sometimes find that I can do new things.  Most of the time, however, I can go through the process of the task at hand in my head and know if I’ll need help without even attempting it.  The bottom line here is: when I ask you to help me with something, whatever it may be, please trust that I do in fact need your help. I know my body and my disability better than anybody else, and I’m not trying to be lazy when I ask for assistance with certain things that are difficult for me.

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