Friday, October 22, 2010

Top 10 Things that Annoy People who use Wheelchairs...but maybe shouldn't

''Accessible Parking'' sign
Here's the official list of the

Top 10 Things that Annoy People who use Wheelchairs...
1.Able-bodied people parking in accessible parking space37%
2.Accessible bathroom stalls being used by an able-bodied person12%
3.Talking over my head as if I'm not here9%
4.Continuing to insist on helping me after I've said no thanks8.3%
5.Congratulating me for things like going to the grocery store like it's worthy of an Olympic medal6.1%
6.Strangers asking what happened to me5.7%
7.Not inviting me to an event because you are protecting me from some frustration (let me figure it out)5.3%
8.Patting me on my head. Don't.5.0%
9.Holding on to the back of my chair so I can't move4.4%
10.Speaking slowly to me because I'm in a wheelchair3.5%
Now that we have the Top 10 List, we just have to get people who are behaving badly to cut it out!

I don't agree with some of these so I thought I would comment on them one at a time.

1. Not all people who park in handicapped spots are in chairs but that does not mean they don't need them. For years I went without a chair or walker or even a cane. But then my body started hurting with distance. Finally a doc I was working for asked me where I was parking. He was most surprise I was using the regular parking that was a fur distance away. After a sever lecture we started the process to get my car a disabled sticker and a closer parking space.  About a year later a guy started to jump my case for illegal parking. After he ran down, I pointed out my handicapped licence plate and explained my problem with walking distances.  Moral: Not all people with disabilities use walking devices but still need close spaces. Look for stickers, licence plates, and tags that hang from the rear view mirror first.

2. I cut people a break on this one. They may be about to burst or have diarrhea. And if they don't go now they my mess themselves. Moral: it could have been a disabled person in there as well as an able bodied person. My problem with some bathrooms are architectural barriers that keep you from getting there. No joke, I have had to go back out to find someone to move a trash can so I can get to the disabled stall. And then there are the stalls that aren't big enough to get you and your chair in and be able to close the stall door.

3. This is one I have not run into often. I attribute it to ignorance and fear of what they don't know so ignore it and just speak right on up. But then I've dealt with my disability all my life ...also, I've always been the shortest person in all classes which is why I probably became such a big mouth. Moral: don't take offence from ignorant people. Just speak up and let them know you can talk for yourself.

4. Don't take it personally. If you watch you will see these 'helpful' people do the same thing for able bodied people. They want the sale and they have been trained that the most helpful get the biggest sales. I generally thank them for their offer, ask their name, and then say 'Mary, let me look around a bit and when I find something I need help with, I'll come and find you." Moral: don't take it personally.

5. This one used to bug the hell out of me until I realized they don't understand that the things we do and the way  we do them are 'normal' for us. Just like the same sorts of things are 'normal' for them. We all have to adapt to something. These people just don't think they could handle things if they were in our shoes. Moral: cut them a break, they fear they could do it if they were in the same conditions.

6. This is one I figured  out at a kid as they were the ones who generally asked (much to the horror of the parent with them). Here's what I figured out. If I can't talk about it, I have a problem. If they can ask it, I have the chance to educate someone. And if they can't handle the answer, they shouldn't have asked it in the first place.
(Sorry, I couldn't think of a moral for this one.)

7. Piffle! Talk to the person about it. They may have dealt with it before. If not, there's no time like the present! What a lot of people don't recognize is that most every place you go today has ways to accommodate us. You may need to call ahead to find out how but it can be done. One new years, we wanted to go to a swanky dinner in what was once a  very beautiful home. We called for reservations and explain my chair would not go up the stairs. No problem, they told us how to come through the kitchen. A wonder of sites and smells no one else got to experience that night. We might have stayed the night but there was no elevator to the second floor. Moral: most things are doable. It's rare to find a roadblock but everyone finds some sometimes.

8. Head patting it a sign of affection and being a shrimp all my life, I have had it a lot. I either ignore it (some of my friends are just like that) or growl and snap or ask where my cookie is. The soon get the idea and stop after we both laugh. The other alternative is to be honest and tell the person you really wish they would not do that as you are no longer a child of 6 and it really bugs you. Moral: it is OK to be honest about feelings.

9. Sorry, folks, I've never had this one happen. If I did, I would probably ask them if there is a danger I've missed and if not, LET GO. Moral: you may have to sit there but you don't have to take it!

10. This person is ignorant. Listen politely and then answer them at your normal speech. (Or if you are in west Texas, realize it is not you. They ALL talk that way.)