Sunday, June 13, 2010

I'm A Person, Too

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.


  1. My disability is invisible. I've been accosted by people for parking in a handicapped spot. I've had one person try to hold me against my car till the police got there (and then they were arrested for assault).
    I've had people go to my pastor behind my back asking him to make me get a job ...
    It is totally unrealistic the comments that have been said to me ... you'd be amazed how many people have relatives with my diseases working as mechanics at American Airlines, running track in college or working at various other very physical jobs that no one with my diagnosis' would be able to do ...if they could they'd not have my diagnosis!
    But people feel free to blast me with these comments. My husband, who is very visibly disabled doesn't quite get it. People go out of their way to accomodate him. Currently, I'm in far better shape than him, but it hasn't always been that way, the first 13 years of the lives of our children, I was much weaker/sicker than him.
    I was blasted for allowing him to carry our child (that I was unable to pick up) and for 'letting' him do such things as mow the lawn when it should be me out there .. I was unable to push the lawn mower.

    I am significantly better than 10 years ago, but I still use the handicapped parking because I may be fine when I walk in, and not so fine when I walk out. I never ever know what is going to hit me and cause me to suddenly weaken (adreniline will do it in a heart beat, as will an asthma attack triggered by someone's perfume)
    I wish more understood invisible disabilities... scratch that .. I wish people understood disabilities.

  2. Erin that post above was me, Peggikaye, from Twitter

  3. My son has an invisible disability; and while it doesn't hamper him physically, it does impose significant limits upon his life. People see him playing music or running errands, and they wonder why he's receiving disability payments -- the presumption is that he's lazy and taking advantage of an entitlement. What they don't realize is that he tried to take a class this summer (after earning his GED), and he was SO excited about it! And then 15 minutes into the class, he called me in tears because he'd had a panic attack and couldn't follow through. He had to withdraw. Just because he can function in many, many ways doesn't mean he doesn't have his struggles as well ....

  4. Invisible or not, people just need to think before they act. I think we did post similarly today. ((HUGS))

  5. You will always run into ignorant people like this, just keep your head up!