A few days ago, a mentor of mine posted a tweet that caught my eye. The woman that had originally tweeted had a complaint about seeing a woman in a wheelchair one minute, and then the same woman was hauling her luggage out on foot a few minutes later. Her argument was that the wheelchairs used in airports shouldn't be free unless someone had documentation. My mentor, a well-respected pediatrician, indicated that not all disabilities were visible.
Agreeing with him to the point at which I was almost in tears, I responded that though I have a condition that is visible, I also have a condition that's not. Even more, there are distances that are just too much for me depending on the day's events and energy conservation. The tweeter then responded that she thought that I would react the same way if someone was acting that way, and I replied with a simple "Not at all. That could have been me!" And then I gave her a tip that I'd like to share with all of you. Most of you know this, and to most of you, it would be common sense, but please indulge me.
If you're ever in contact with someone who looks like they may be having difficulty, and you're concerned, instead of uttering something under your breath and making assumptions, simply go up to them and ask if you can assist. Some people with extra challenges will get a little pestered by that, but at least you used your concern in a productive manner, and there was absolutely no harm done.
In relation to the "visibility" issue, I have hydrocephalus, and though I haven't had any troubles for ten years (knock on wood), being out in a public place when symptoms start could pose some danger that might be strange to those people who aren't as well-aware of the condition.
On the same note, the "making assumptions" act is rude. It would be almost as if I were to look down the street and see a woman walking her dog. "Oh, that woman doesn't have a car, so she must have to walk everywhere she goes." Who knows? Maybe the woman is enjoying the evening breeze and getting her exercise.
Next time this happens to me, do I have permission to scream, "I'm a person, too?"
Because chances are, I just might.