December 7, 2018 |
When our family is out in the community, people notice us. I have one son who uses a wheelchair. He has a communication device attached to the chair. My other son has some emotional issues. Sometimes he can get quite loud and defiant.
I don’t like a lot of attention, but we just can’t escape it. Over the years, I have learned to deal with it. Over the years, I have also learned people honestly don’t know what to do when they see us. Here are some ideas on how to respond:
- Yes, hold the door. But watch out for your toes! We’re always grateful when people help.
- Smile at me, but don’t pity me. I happen to like my life. But if we’re having a rough moment, a smile can be the encouragement I need.
- Talk to my oldest son like he is a pre-teen, not a baby. Yes, he uses a wheelchair but that doesn’t mean he’s not competent. Talk to him like you would talk to any other kid his age. Also on that note, address him not me. I am not his voice. He has his own thoughts and opinions.
- If my youngest is having a moment, don’t assume he’s being a spoiled brat. He could be experiencing extreme anxiety. He might not be able to properly express his emotions. Something might be causing him pain. Offer to help with grace if you feel the need. But chances are, we just need to wait him out and work through it.
- Don’t tell your child not to stare. Kids are curious. Let them ask questions. I prefer an open conversation about disability - talking about disability makes it normal.
Basically, our family is more like yours than you think. We just look at little different on the outside. If you treat my kids like you do other kids in public, you’d learn this pretty quickly. So don’t be scared or uneasy when you see us. Smile and say Hi!
Here is a great article about talking to a parent of a child with a disability.