What Nondisabled People Think When They See Us
It’s frustrating when nondisabled people see us and jump to conclusions, assuming they know exactly what our disability is and our limitations. I call these people “disability know-it-alls” and they drive me batty.
Others feel pity when they see us — a large number of people, in fact. This is the default emotional response for them, and I understand that, but people need to retrain their brains. It is time.
If you have a disability, what do you think when you catch people looking at you or staring at you in public? Are you used to it by now and completely unfazed, or do you still let it get to you? Some people with disabilities relish these occasions as an opportunity to educate the nondisabled, hoping to show them we can live “normal lives” too.
My friend, Jenni Taylor, a vent-dependent quad who I lunch with often, especially loves the opportunity to educate the public. “When they see me in the public ‘doing my thing’ and interacting, whether it be shopping, eating out or just hanging out with my family, they might see a different perspective,” she says. “Hopefully it lets them know that I live my life in every way possible and am not ‘sheltered’ or ‘hiding myself’ from the world. I enjoy inspiring others and showing that all things are possible.”
While we can’t control what nondisabled people think when they see us, the biggest thing we can do is inform the public that our lives are not as sad as they assume. That way, when they do see us out and about, hopefully their minds will be able to wander to the more positive side of things, and not dwell on the negative.
— Tiffiny Carlson, Spin 2.0 Blog, newmobility.com