Thanks But No Thanks

The other day, my friend messaged me about a video she'd seen on Facebook. She said that a girl had asked a guy in a wheelchair if he wanted help, and when he said no, she started pushing his wheelchair for him and telling him about herself and that's when my friend stopped watching the video because that's not an okay thing to do. 

Photo Credit: 101 Mobility

We talked for a while after that about how it's not okay, but that video as well as one I saw by BBC Three on what you shouldn't ask people who use a wheelchair, has really got me thinking about how obvious the ignorance and taboo around disability is. I don't use a wheelchair all of the time, so I didn't fully understand every frustration in those videos, but I use crutches constantly and found I shared a lot of the same frustrations. 

If you're able bodied and reading this, I'm not saying don't hold a door open if you've just walked through and I'm behind you or that you shouldn't offer to help if I look like we're struggling, that's just being a decent person as long as they're things you'd do for an able bodied person too.  Don't offer to help because you see disability before the person and don't force your help upon us, if we say no, accept that and continue on with your day - chances are, we've mastered our own way of doing things, and if we need your help, we will ask. Think about it this way, if it was two able bodied people and one forcibly started to help the other with something they didn't want help with, people would be infuriated. It isn't different if there's disability involved, okay? 

For me, it's different if a friend passes me my crutches or picks up my shopping for me, they know me and my needs, but imagine if a stranger just took your shopping trolley off you as you're going round ASDA because they thought you couldn't manage, when actually you could. You probably wouldn't like it and disabled people aren't any different. 

I'm sick and tired of the idea that people with disabilities are constantly wanting or needing the help of the able bodied and that we should graciously accept every time. I get it's trying to be helpful, but if I say no, and you carry on, it's just fucking patronising - I'm disabled not incapable, thank you. 

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