Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 5th 2015 Contents A28
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, May 5, 2015
An interesting conversation picked up on Reddit
this week when a user posted the following question
to people with disabilities: "What is something
that we (presumably people without disabilities)
do that we think helps, but it really doesn t?"
In just a day, more than 9,000 comments rolled
in, and people living with all types of health con-
ditions---from physical disabilities to developmental
delays to invisible illnesses---offered a lot of great
insight. If you're unfamiliar with what it's like to
live with a health condition, you may not even realise
when you're not actually being that helpful. (That's
okay because that's where we come in). According
to Redditors, here are some common mistakes people
make when they're trying to help:
Helping without asking
"I love when people help me, but please always
ask first, and if I say, No thanks, I've got it,' then
go on with your day. Or better yet, strike up a con-
"A friend of a friend of mine who (uses a wheel-
chair) told us how people constantly offer to push
her to her destination, and often times go to start
push (sic) her along. One person said, I'm helping!'
as he started pushing her in her chair. She yelled
back, No, you're kidnapping!!' He stopped."
Changing the way you talk
"A wheelchair doesn't make someone hard of
hearing. Or stupid. Stop acting like it does."
"I'm hearing impaired (or hard of hearing, as the
Deaf community prefers to put it). Do. Not. Yell at
top volume, reeeaaaaaallllllly painfully slow. Just like
it isn't going to help a Spanish person understand
the English you are speaking, it's going to make you
look real stupid to me... and everyone else we are
around. It might work for you with Grandma, but
I'm not your granny. Face me so I can read your
lips, speak sharp and speak clear and we cool."
"Don't bend down to my level to talk to me, I
can hear you perfectly well, and it's incredibly
Saying "But you don't look (disabled, sick, etc.)"
" But you don't look sick.' Well you don't look
like a doctor, but that's just my opinion. "
"The thing is, people without visible disabilities...
often hear, But you don't look sick' as an excuse
for the person saying it to not take the condition
seriously or not give proper accommodations. In
those cases it's not a compliment, it's an accusation.
It happens way more often than you'd expect, and
since it's not just annoying but often an obstacle to
actually getting the help needed to get on with your
life, it gets old fast."
"I don't want to be pitied for something I can't
do anything about. It makes me feel less human/infe-
"Pity is condescending, it ignores a person's talents,
relationships, accomplishments and joys, and paints
them as nothing more than a thing that suffers."
Offering medical advice
"My husband has chronic migraines. I can't tell
you the number of times someone suggests f**king
Excedrin. Oh really? I've lived with migraines for
20 years and I never thought to try over-the-counter
Excedrin! Tell me more about how it helped you
with a really bad headache once.'"
"Someone told me cashews could cure depression.
I... may not have been the most tactful in my
"Believe me, unless you are a researcher who spe-
cialises in my condition, you probably don't know
more about treatments than me."
Avoiding eye contact or keeping
your questions to yourself
"I have some form of Tourette's syndrome.
I love questions. Questions show concern
and interest, and that is (for me at least) infi-
nitely more preferable than awkward ten-
"I only have one eye. Look, I already know
I look different. I understand that your kid
is curious. That's a good thing. Let me answer
their questions. They can learn something
and find out that I'm still a nice guy even
though I look different. Don't make them
feel afraid to talk to people who don't look
exactly like them."
Calling a person "inspiring" or "brave"
"I laugh when people call me an inspiration.
If they only knew. No Hallmark movies to
be made about me anytime soon."
"This! I'm being praised for going to uni-
versity and doing normal random everyday
stuff. What am I supposed to do, sit on my
butt all day and wait to die?"
"There's nothing brave or strong about it.
I exist. My strength and courage comes from
what I do. Not what I am."
But remember, everyone is different.
"Many of the things that some people
don't want could likewise be things others
might welcome. The point is, everyone is
different and has different needs and feelings
about their situation in life.
My advice is engage in a conversation and
ask if there is anything you can do. If the
answer is yes, help. If the answer is no, fine.
This applies to everyone---not just those peo-
ple with a clear physical impairment."
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
I love when people help me, but please
always ask first, and if I say, 'No
thanks, I've got it,' then go on with
your day. Or better yet, strike up a
'Helpful' things that don't really help people with disabilities
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