5 Things To Keep In Mind When You’re Befriending Someone In A Wheelchair

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1. Be Patient.

Having a disability does not mean I am incapable of accomplishing something. It just means I might have to accomplish it from a different angle. This can require trial and error. For example, putting on a shirt or jacket or participating in a class or activity. Being patient it may take time for me to learn something, but is important to know that we do understand. We just learn at different speeds and levels.

2. Be mindful of comments like, “Wow, you remember that your memory is so much better than mine.”

As if someone who happens to sit instead of stand on their own two feet is incapable of comprehending or remembering anything. Physical challenges have nothing to do with a person’s’ intelligence. Anyone can communicate with someone. What it really comes down to is if you are truly making a conscious effort to listen to what the person is saying.

3. An appropriate tone is important.

Please, when you approach me to talk to me, not at me, or down to me. Talk to me like you just did with the person before me. Don’t take on a childlike-tone with me. Fellow peers and even adults have done this to me, and I have to say while I understand you may think it’s the right way to approach someone with a disability, physical or otherwise. Not only is it extremely unnecessary, but it comes across as demeaning.

4. The Wheelchair Stare

If you have a question, please ask. Don’t stand there and staring me as if you’re waiting for me to do some kind of trick. I appreciate genuine curiosity, and I am more than willing to answer them.

5. The Golden Rule.

Treat everyone as you yourself would want to be treated. Equal respect should be shown and practiced every day. TC mark

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