The biggest thing is to treat them as the person they are, not a disability. It also helps to plan activities that everyone in a group can participate in and don't give someone a hard time if they are unable to do something.
Just make sure that you don't see them as disabled. See them as the person they are without the disability, and you will realize that it's the same person as the one with the disability. Try making a list of parts of that person's identity. Pretend that you're describing them to somebody, and instead of saying "my friend in the wheelchair," say "my charismatic friend who loves life!"
Did you find this post helpful?
Anonymous - Expert in Disabilities
May 18th, 2015 1:57pm
Most hurting of feelings comes from you being uncomfortable around people that are disabled. One of my close friends is a dwarf and you know you draw attention when you are less than 4 feet high. Another has autism and still another has an issue with walking and getting in and out of chairs.
In each case, remind yourself that they are not a dwarf, or autistic person, or handicapped. They are a person, just like you. They may be Jim, Jennifer, or John. They are a person. They have dreams, they have food tastes, they have fun, just like you. And if, for example, my dwarf friend needs me to reach something for her, she just asks. If my handicapped friend needs help getting out of a chair, he just asks me. Most disabled people do not want to be defined by their disability. Though their appearance and daily routine may be different from yours, they are still people, just like you. Remember that, act accordingly, and you will be fine.
I'm going to tell you what I know from personal experience. I have a birth injury and a lot of people seem to let that define me as an individual. I have one piece of advice and that's to treat that person the same as you would treat any other person without a disability. Don't treat them like a charity case. They are still humans.
I suppose it depends on what you're trying to say to this person. I think it's just important to reflect on and to communicate that you love them, value them and what they bring to your life. Sometimes (and this is different for everyone) but sometimes people with disabilities can feel like they don't contribute enough/bring enough to the relationship etc. I think it's true for everyone that it's really nice to hear that you're valued just for being who you are.
The best thing you can probably do is step into their shoes and have a think how your life would be different and how the things people say and do would affect you.
The other thing is just be open and honest! If you don't know what to say let them know! Let them know that you're worried about hurting their feelings but this is how you feel or that you're struggling to know what to say etc. Just knowing that a loved one or friend is trying to understand what you're going through, and is being considerate of your feelings can go a really long way :)
Good luck and hope something in here helps :) You're thinking about it so you're definitely on the right track, Take care
Don't focus on their disability. Disabled doesn't mean useless, and if what is bothering you is focused on their disability you either need to think of a solution for yourself as to not hurt the person's feelings and putting off the potential of a great friends or not say anything at all. People with disabilities try their hardest to be like everyone else and the best way to address them and any situation is through positivity and patience.
The most important thing, whether someone has a disability or not, is to see them for who they are (rather than reducing them to a superficial stereotype) and to treat them with respect. For the most part, that means treating people the same way, whether they have a disability or not. Some possible exceptions include:
- respecting someone's independence by only helping when asked,
- respecting someone's adaptive equipment (e.g. wheelchair) by leaving it alone,
- talking to someone directly, rather than talking to their carer,
- considering accessibility and adaptive equipment for shared activities,
- including someone, even/especially if they have a different way of communicating or interacting with people.
Those are just some ideas that spring to mind. They won't apply to everyone! It really depends on the person, their disability, and your relationship to them. If in doubt, ask them.
As a person who is a part of that group I will tell you that everyone is different, but make sure you treat them the same as you would anyone else. One of the biggest things is that there won't always be others around and people in this situation may have to do things for themselves. Make sure you give them a chance to try, if they need help they will ask for it, but don't do it for them without asking, They might be offended.
Did you find this post helpful?
December 26th, 2015 3:11pm
Instead of hurting them, support them and accept them for who they are, treat them the way you want to be treated.
Did you find this post helpful?
March 3rd, 2016 1:26am
The most important thing to remember when interacting with people with disabilities is that that every disabled person is different, including in the way they approach disability issues. They have different preferences when it comes t0 the use of terminology, openness about their disability, and much more. Try not to make assumptions about such things, and be sure to ask about and respect a person's individual preferences.
Talk to the person instead of over or about them. Listen patiently, especially if speech impediment is a symptom of the disability. Treat the person with the same dignity and respect that you should be getting. Do not insult in thought, word or deed towards the person. Hold doors open or help navigate other challenging areas if you can do so but leave them alone if there seems to be no trouble. Sit with them for lunch if you're both on campus or at work that day. Take plenty of time to get to know the person, and you should soon see a heart of gold behind the frail shell.
I try to remind myself that they are a person too. As someone who has an "invisible" disability - one that cannot be told by looking at me - I think I try harder to get that no one wants to be categorized.
Do your best to treat them as you would anyone else, except in situations where they obviously cannot do things "normally" and at that point, I would just be honest & politely ask them how you should handle the situation. There are so many different disabilities, and different attitudes among those who are disabled. Some disabled folks despise being seen as disabled and do very well at adapting around their handicaps so they may get offended if you try to help them, or even mention the handicaps. However, there are also disabled folk who perhaps haven't fully accepted their situation, or are newly disabled, or having great difficulty finding adaptions, and they end up frustrated & lonely. Those folks often wish you would give them a helping hand, and definitely to lend a listening ear. It is certainly better to ask then to end up avoiding the person because you don't know what to say.
Tl:dr version: When in doubt, be open & politely ask, "Friend, I'm afraid to say something insensitive that will hurt your feelings, can you please help me know how to best treat/talk to you?" Also find out if they appreciate or despise being offered assistance.
I'm disabled, and I know it's a touchy subject, but this is my view on it :)
Firstly, no one is disabled, they are just differently able. Thing is differently abled people are just like us, only with a bit more suffering in life, and hurting such a person who is already going through so much is not only sadistic but also very unbecoming of us as fellow human beings. The way I see it, if we treat them with the same level of compassion as we do with others, they will feel boosted and morally uplifted. Afterall, If one person breathed easier because of you, that is success, and who doesn't wants to be a successful person.