Our guest today is Denise Horn, an adult with cerebral palsy. Denise is actively involved in Disability Advocacy. She is also a life coach, and offers free consultations.
From the show:
I asked Denise to talk to us about Disability Etiquette, this basically means, how should an able bodied person treat someone with a disability. These are the nine main points we touched on during the show:
- Use people first language.
- Speak directly to the person rather than the caregiver or parent
- When introduced to a person with a disability it is appropriate to offer to shake hands.
- If you offer assistance wait til the offer is accepted.. Then listen for instructions.
- Treat adults as adults. Address people who have disabilities by their first name, only when extending the same familiarity to all others present. Never patronize people who use a wheelchair by patting them on the head or shoulder.
- Don’t make assumptions about what a person can or cannot do based on his disability. All people with disabilities are different and have a wide variety of abilities.
- Don’t push pull or lean on a person’s wheelchair unless they ask you to. It is considered like hanging on a person and is considered inappropriate. The chair is considered part of a personal body space of the person who uses it.
- When Speaking with a person in a wheelchair or who uses crutches, place yourself at eye level in front of the person to facilitate the conversation.
- If a person with a disability is in a church setting and a non disabled person comes up to them who believes in the laying on of hands for healing. The non disabled needs to ask permission before laying hands on the disabled person to see if they would like to be prayed for in that way.
Quotes from the show:
- If someone says, “No, I don’t need help” don’t feel offended or think, “Oh maybe I shouldn’t have said or asked that.” Just realize that they have their own way of doing things and they want to be as independent as they chose. or they are use to it. Wait and listen for their instructions and proceed from there.
- For a long time every time my daughter saw someone in a wheelchair she would wheel herself to them and ask, “ Has anyone ever pushed you without. your permission?” It was a big deal for her. I don’t think she ever experienced someone taking that freedom away from her and that independence to such an extent. It was a scary experience, she didn’t know the woman.
- Ask. Always ask first.
- Treat us like adults because we are people too. Let us chime in to the conversation and treat us like everyone else.
- What I need people to understand is that even though you might not understand my speech right away, hold tight. Bear with me and eventually I will get it out because when my anxiety dissipates I will be fine.
- Don’t assume that everybody who has a physical disability and they carry themselves differently, don’t assume that we are intellectually challenged. Or don’t assume we are lesser of a person. Because most of the time people think that of me .But once I start talking and tell them I have this degree and I am a Life Coach. They are like “Oh I didn’t know.”
- If I didn’t have to prove myself and break those assumptions that other people have this would be an easier world to deal with. So don’t make assumptions and don’t let those assumptions stick. Take time to get to know that person.
- Patronizing looks like you are being kind. But instead it’s the tone of voice and the manner in which you speak to the other person that communicates an assumption of superiority.
- They assume because I sit in a wheelchair and because of all this other stuff that I must have an intellectual disability or whatever. When they start getting to know me they’re like, “Oh you have had experiences just like everybody else!”
- I am so tired of having to prove myself to everyone.
- I think if a random man came and touched my legs without my permission, even at a church I would tell him to go away or call the police. You don’t touch someone like that first of all. That line gets a little blurred when you have a disability.
- As able bodied people we look at disabled people and we cannot fathom what having a disability would be like. We make the wrong assumption that what you need the most is to be healed from your disability. I know enough adults with disabilities that say their disability is not the one thing they want prayer for. They maybe want prayer because they have a hard situation at work or they can’t find anyone to hire them. Or they are having problems within their family or they are struggling with something in their life.Or their having problems with their friends. And those are the issues they could really use the prayer for.
- I don’t want to be healed from my disability. It’s part of who I am. It’s part of my identity. This is the way God uses me. I like the way I am.
- People with disabilities have the same desires,wants, and needs as everybody else. We just need help to that space. It takes more effort for that to happen. Just be a willing hand.
- Trust me, we don’t want to be on the sidelines.We want to be an active part of the church.
You can contact Denise Horn at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask about her free coaching services.
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