Since starting this blog, and being on Twitter, I’ve seemed to come across a lot of people in similar situations to myself. By this I mean people in wheelchairs, people with disabilities, people who advocate rights for those who can’t advocate for themselves. On the whole, these are lovely, positive people with kind hearts and good attitudes, genuinely trying to make a change and get their voices heard, much like myself. However, as with everything, there are a few bad apples. There are a few toxic people out there, shamelessly promoting themselves and their own agenda under the guise of ‘activism’. And I can’t stand it. (Pun intended).
Being in my chair, I’ve come to learn what the term ‘ableism’ means. Essentially, it is discrimination in favour of able bodied people. I’ve not experienced it first hand, but I’ve been led to believe, by these keyboard warriors, that simply by being in a wheelchair I am a victim of this discrimination, which simply isn’t the case. I AM a person with a disability, which in itself is no issue. I am a person, and I am me. That is it. Nothing more, nothing less. I don’t expect preferential treatment, or to be regarded differently. I have needs to be met, and beyond that, I want to be treated the same as anyone else. The law is the law, and needs must be met. Other than that, those with disabilities do not particularly deserve any sort of preferential treatment. Lots of people are lovely and go above and beyond to help, but there is no expectation from me to do so.
The problem, I have so far found, Is that people don’t realise or understand that a disability does not make people stupid, or different, or needy. People don’t need pity, or attention, or anything. I by no means speak on behalf of anyone else, I just say things how I see them. For example, the other day in a toy shop, two little girls completely engrossed in their finds almost walked into me. Just before they did, what I presume to be their mother shouted down the aisle to “mind the wheelchair”. Not “mind that man” or “watch where you’re going”. I normally wouldnt have replied, but I quickly told her I was a person, not a chair.
We need to just be nice to each other, remember that a person is a person no matter, and all go about our business being as considerate as we can for others. I really do need to stress that 99.9% of the community I have joined is fantastic; the support offered by others with spinal cord injuries and disabilities in general is overwhelming. I just can’t abide the air of entitlement from some people.
I am very much an open book. I try to be as honest as I can about my life and injuries, both on here and in person. If anyone has questions, I much prefer people to ask. I imagine that most people in a similar position to myself are the same. All we ask is that you treat us fairly, with dignity, with respect, and with compassion. And that is all anyone can ask, able bodied or not.