Yes, I understand we all have different levels of capability, where some people may need more help than others, but we all get clumped together in that category, and because of that the assumption is made that a disability always, and automatically, = incapable.
This assumption dictates a huge proportion of my life because it influences the way I am seen as a person and how other people interact with me. Some examples of this is that I have total strangers coming up behind me and they just put their hands on me or my chair, without announcing themselves, and they just start pushing me because they think I can't or I need help. I have also had total strangers, again, come up to me and just grab my stuff, that I am carrying, off my lap, or that I am pushing, out of my hands like bags, carts or boxes etc.
I understand there is no malicious intentions behind those actions and that people are just trying to help but that can be very frightening and can cause damage or harm to the individual. Wanting to help is perfectly fine, and to me can be a part of our human nature, but the best thing to do is simply ask first if I or someone needs help rather than just assuming we do. Or, in many cases, the person will ask for help if they need it. I have lived my whole life in my chair and I have found, and continue to find, ways to navigate my life. And just because it may look like I am struggling to you doesn't mean that I am.
As part of my disability my core muscles have been affected / they don't work as they should, so as a result I don't have the greatest of balance (those who know me will know I sometimes fall over just putting my hair up 😊). But by living with that and understanding it I have developed ways to compensate for it.
Going back to my examples of just being pushed or having things taken away from me suddenly, I have had many occasions where I have fallen out of my chair or had all my stuff fall because it has knocked me off balance. Compensating for my lack of balance means that I have found specific ways of pushing my chair, or other things, as well as different ways of carrying things. Yes, it may look awkward or difficult to you, but it works for me, and when a sudden unannounced change happens it can cause some major problems.
Another thing I would like to touch on is the importance of also listening to the person when they say they are fine, they are capable of doing it or they don't need help. We know what our capabilities and limitations are just like able-bodied individuals. We know what we can and can't handle. So please believe us when we say that and let us do it.
Putting this into a different perspective, no one would just randomly go up to another able-bodied person unannounced and start pushing them / help them to walk, or just go up and grab their stuff and walk off with it. So, what is it that makes that behavior ok to do with someone who is differently abled? I am all for helping others but let's be conscious of the ways we do it and think about what that difference is, so we can come together, change it, and move towards greater understanding and inclusion! 😊
-Desire, Dream, Vision-