I have written many a blog about how you should not help someone with a disability unless they ask you to. Further, if you offer someone your help and they say no, then leave it. However, I’m pretty sure that people think I only say this because:
A. I am too embarrassed to ask for/accept help,
B. Because I don’t realise that I can’t do something myself, or
C. Others believe they can make the task easier/quicker for me.
I have one thing to say to you. WRONG!!!
Here is why:
The front door of my apartment building is really heavy and it is not an automatic door. Plus, every time I pass through it I have Cecily (my walking frame) with me.
As the majority of times I go through the door it is on my way to or from a taxi, I am usually on my own.
I am pretty weak, wobbly and I have no peripheral vision (I.e. I can only see things that I am looking directly or that are directly in front of me). So, it has taken me a bit of trial and error but I have found a way to get through the door completely by myself in a way that is easy for me.
I simply open the door with my bottom and then lean my full weight against it while I bring Cecily through. It might look a bit awkward from the outside, but actually, it works really well and is very quick.
The other day I was doing just that when a “helpful” person who happened to be walking past decided that I needed help.
Can anyone see where I’m going with this?
She reached for the door handle and wrenched it back so that the door would open wider and I could get through more easily. Unfortunately, though, when she did this I already had my full weight leaning against the door. This meant that when the door flew backwards, so did I and I landed heavily on my arse.
It bloody hurt!
Naturally the lady was mortified and apologised again and again and again before helping me up. I will admit, I was really pissed off and (of course) there were lots of spectators. But, because I knew she was only trying to help I couldn’t very well tell her off.
Now, she wasn’t to know this, but because of my vision impairment I didn’t see her coming towards me and I had no time to steady myself and this is why I fell.
If she had asked first I could have explained that I was already leaning against the door and saved us both the embarrassment. It also might have been helpful for her to assume that I have possibly done this before.
It’s wrong to assume that someone needs help just because they have a disability. In order to maintain independence we, as disabled people, are able to find our own unique way of doing things. They may not be the way you would do them but they work for us and that is all that matters.
Having such low expectations of me because of my disability is not only offensive but it is also bigotry. In fact, it’s ableism. So, stop it!
Sometimes it’s really a pain in the arse…