Being a disabled adult I am acutely aware of the many challenges i will face in life, becoming somewhat immune to forms of discrimination and aggression. I almost expect not to be able to get into a shop because there’s a step or two to get into the shop or the Ilys too small for me to navigate my wheelchair, I’m also more likely to be ignored by any assistance.
Over the years being faced with these obstacles regularly I have learnt in my own way to navigate though them. However, that said it definitely does not mean I don’t get frustrated and angry to the point of wanting to shout from the roof tops my frustrations in the hope someone listens. I do most of my shopping online as it’s easier and less frustrating plus I can avoid any inaccessibility on the high streets.
Ask about my disability if you’re curious, just don’t patronise me.
Then you have the other forms of aggression, by that I’m talking about the negative comments or acts I experience, for example being patted on the shoulder or hand from people that feel awkward about my disability. Not forgetting the patronising comments like ‘you don’t look like you need a wheelchair or disabled’ not sure what Is someone is meant to look like or ‘is your husband able bodied?’ Question, followed with a shocked face when I answer yes he is. Then there’s the people who completely ignore me and talk to my PA’s or husband just because they see my wheelchair, assuming I can’t speak for myself.
These are acts commonly referred to as micro-aggressions.
Micro-aggression Simply put, a daily reminder of common assumptions and negative stereotypes which don’t leave you and over time can make an impacting your mental wellbeing. The thing is micro-aggressions they don’t come from a place of nastiness or malice is more a place of ignorance and lack of knowledge, many people are unaware that they are coming across as being ableist. Making it hard for the for someone to challenge.
I’ve always believed knowledge is power.
Negative stereotypes towards those with disabilities have been deeply embedded over years within society it hasn’t just happened over night so will of course take time to be undo. And If we do in fact now live ‘woke world’ then ignorance is no longer a valid reason to treat or view disabled people with outdated views.
I will always encourage healthy curiosity.
I have always been very open and forthcoming about why I am in a wheelchair. There are ways for you explore your curiosity without being disrespectful and causing offence, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask someone with a disability how they can drive a car, if you’re unaware that cars can be adapted to suit their needs. Just don’t then be a dickhead and follow it with ahh bless you, well done.
My advice is simple
Remember when your parents use to tell you ‘think before you speak’ when you was younger well same applies here – if you wouldn’t say it to a complete stranger then don’t say or do it to someone with a disability. Have empathy and compassion try thinking about how you would feel if a Shop assistant or Doctor didn’t acknowledge you, completely ignoring you was even there just to talk to your partner/family member or friend.
It’s also Important to remember we are all guilty of Micro-aggression no matter who we are, in order for change we can only but continuously learn gaining knowledge from others who share their different life experiences.
Come give me a follow and say hi.
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