Oh you must find it hard when…

This week’s blogs are dedicated to demystifying disabilities. I talked about disability (small d) on Monday so today I wanted to talk about idiots who think they understand me but really don’t. You know the type… firstly they notice your disability, (OMG she has no fingers on her left hand!) then they tilt their head just slightly accompanied by a sympathetic look and followed by the words “You must find it hard when…” [insert assumption here]

The latest one I was just last month! The person noticed, tilted their head, produced a sympathetic look and then said “You must find it hard when… you change your child’s nappy” Well I actually haven’t had that one before so I decided to drag it out a little.

“Oh what do you mean?” I said

“Oh you know…” looks meaningfully at my little hand “Cause of your hand. You mustn’t be able to hold things properly”

“It’s a birth defect so I have 35 years experience at using it. I’m pretty good at most things. Even typing.”

“Oh yes of course you are” she says and then spends the next few minutes gushing about how incredibly clever I am because I can complete normal everyday tasks.

And then sometimes I strike pure gold and I can’t resist but tell a few untruths for my own comic relief. About 12 years ago I was working part-time in a bookshop. I was serving customers and putting books in bags when a customer decided that putting in bags must be so difficult for someone like me. So the customer packed their own bags. Unbeknownst to me a “special moment” had passed between us because all of a sudden it was okay for the customer to ask me “What happened?” And then a little untruth just slipped out of my mouth. Well, to be honest it was quite a big untruth.

“It was a shark” I say flippantly.

Their eyes bulged. “Oh you poor thing, how awful” she sighed.

“Yeah” I said stoically.

And with that she left the shop. My colleague and I burst into laughter and he told the next customer that I swam about 50 metres just to get to the shark!

So if you do happen to meet someone with a disability please don’t assume too much. Maybe they don’t want to talk about it all the time. Maybe they don’t really have “a story” that’s all that’s exciting. Maybe they’re successful people despite their disabilities not because of it.

See the person. Not the disability.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sacha
    Dec 05, 2012 @ 21:42:07

    I love it. My little girl calls your hand “baby hand” & asks when will it grow? Then she puts 2 & 2 together after explanation & says she’s amazing. I’ve got lots of scars & beauty therapists try to give advice to get rid of it. I should use your comment – shark attack, the teeth didn’t make it all the way through lol.

    Reply

  2. Na
    Dec 05, 2012 @ 23:17:26

    What! you have a disability. I never knew.

    Reply

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