Being in a wheelchair must be difficult, right? It depends on the person. Some people are “born this way,” and they don’t know what life is like without a wheelchair. They live their lives to the fullest, and nothing gets in their way.
There’s also the neat ability to bypass long lines at amusement parks and fairs – in many cases.
A few things that most people don’t know about the wheelchair lifestyle is that:
1. Patting on the Head is Disrespectful
Yup. Unless you’re a very close friend or family member, you never want to pat someone in a wheelchair on the head – it’s disrespectful. Greeting a person in a wheelchair with a pat on the head might lead to your foot being run over.
Instead, if the person is capable, shake their hand to greet them.
2. Getting Ready Might Take More Time
Slip on your pants, shirt and you’re ready to go out, but for a person in a wheelchair, this may be a much longer process. This depends on the extent of the person’s disability, but in many cases, the person will take a little longer to get ready.
A lack of movement in the legs makes it difficult to reach your feet to put on socks, shoes, pants and undergarments. If a person has limited trunk control, they may also need a patient lift to get them out of the bed and into their wheelchair.
3. Going Out Can Cause Anxiety
Everyone can have anxiety, but try living in a world that wasn’t designed for you. When a person in a wheelchair is asked to go to a concert, they have to make sure that the event is handicap accessible.
If the person is asked to go to the zoo, gym or even a pizza place, they may get anxiety because they’re feverishly looking on Google Street View to see if the venue is accessible.
4. Don’t Disrespect the Chair
I’ve seen a lot of people disrespect wheelchair users, and it’s not right. You should never just sit in their chair when they’re not in it or just run them around without their consent. It’s scary to give up control, and when a person doesn’t have control of their wheelchair, it’s akin to a person losing their mobility.
5. Wheelchair Users Want to Be “Normal”
A person in a wheelchair is just like any other person with feelings and aspirations. Wheelchair users want to be “normal,” and this means to stop telling them that they’re an inspiration or you wouldn’t be able to handle life in a wheelchair.
Everyone is trying to live their lives, and just because a person’s life is a tad harder in a wheelchair doesn’t mean that they want your pity or opinion on the matter.
Sure, it’s okay to ask a person if they need help or ask them about their life, but don’t dwell on it for too long. You may even be shocked to learn that everyone with a disability wants to fit in with the crowd because they’re just living the best life that they can.