Respecting People with Disabilities

I am disabled. I have several things wrong in my lower back. None of them are related to weight or a bad life style. I say that because it seems like a lot of people look for ways to blame the disabled for their problems. I use a rolling walker or two canes to get around. I have poor balance, some difficulty with moving my legs, and I have a lot of pretty serious pain in my back if I stand or walk for awhile. Pain killers cut the pain, but not by much. My disability is very obvious. You can't miss that I walk with difficulty. It slows me down a lot, but doesn't usually stop me. And boy, that walker sure does get in the way when I'm climbing trees and breakdancing! (lol) I have a few tips for some of the people out there. Just some - most of you are very nice and some of you are very helpful. Gosh, do I like the nice and helpful folks out there! Bless you all a hundred times a day!

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Please don't ask your doctor for a handicapped parking permit if you don't actually need one. A lot of people ask for them simply because they are very fat or older, and though able bodied, feel they deserve it. And if you're a doctor, and a patient wants one and doesn't actually need it, say no.

If you are able bodied and park in a handicapped spot, STOP IT! I know you are busy and in a hurry. So am I. But what you are doing is illegal, and can cost you a lot. It is also taking a space from someone like me, who really needs it. I see it almost every time I go shopping - people who are obviously very able-bodied parking in the handicapped spots. All of the spots are taken and half of them shouldn't be. I see this especially when I drive a friend to the store and I sit in my car and wait. No exaggeration: I have been there when every single spot was taken by non-disabled people - young people running in, walking fast, no difficulties with moving or breathing. I find a free spot only about half the time. Walking into the store is hard. Heck, getting out of the car is hard. Walking in is very slow and very painful. Please don't make a disabled person walk from the far end of the lot because you are running in from a handicapped spot. Police departments could make a heck of a lot of money ticketing people parking illegally in handicapped spots.

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If you are a truly disabled driver with a permit and you drive someone else, but you aren't getting out of the car, please don't park in a handicapped spot. When you do, you are taking it from someone like you that really needs it. If your passenger whines, don't give in. Laziness is not a disability.

I have, many times, heard people complain about the best spots being reserved for the handicapped. I am not sympathetic. I realize it means they have to walk a little further, but I'd trade place. I'd love to be able bodied, pain free, and unafraid of falling again, and you can find out what disabled life is like. Please open your eyes and really see the old person walking so slow, maybe pulling their oxygen tank. Stop and see that person walking slow and careful who has a heart condition, and needs to reserve their energy. Actually think about that person struggling to walk or in a wheel chair. Want to trade places with any of them? I didn't think so. Even worse, I have heard people say that disabled people should just stay at home. I've even heard people say they just don't want to see us because we're funny looking, or maybe we just make them feel bad for a few seconds. Well, we have just as much right to be out as anyone. Would you really wish a life of isolation and being shut-in on anyone just for your convenience?

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Once in a store that has the electric carts for the disabled, please don't take one if you don't need it. Being tired or fat are not reasons to use one (please don't be offended, I am not trying to insult fat people. I'm a bit fat myself, and I know that most fat people would never take the cart). Please don't let your 12 year-old take one for fun. These carts allow me such lovely freedom in a store. I'm not in pain and it's a lot faster. If you work in that store and see kids driving a cart, take it from them. If a store is nice enough to have the carts, please find a place close to the door to park them so I don't have to walk all the way across your big store to get one. If you see someone struggling to unplug the cart and use it, please go help them. Please be aware that the electric carts don't stop on a dime and some of them take a long time to stop, so don't suddenly cut in front of the carts. It hasn't happened yet, but I've come close to hitting people and their shopping carts. It's scariest when people aren't watching their little ones and they dart in front of me.

If you see someone in a public place who is using a walker, canes, a shopping cart, etc. to help them walk, please be considerate. I know we are slow, and I know you are in a big hurry and perhaps you don't want to wait for us to walk past. I do know that it's annoying to have to wait, but it is hard for the disabled to get out of the house and do normal things. Please don't make it harder. Every single time I am out, people hurry to dart in front of me through the door or look at items on the shelf or get to an aisle before me, or a hundred different reasons. I have to stop suddenly, and have nearly fallen a few times. I then have to stand and wait for them, in pain the whole time. I am in a hurry too, because I want to get my errand done before pain stops me. Some stores don't have the electric carts, but I still need to shop there. Your consideration means a lot. If you happen to get to the door, aisle, or whatever first, it's yours. I'll wait. Just don't cut in my way.

If you are disabled, please thank other people when they are considerate. It's courteous, it makes you feel good, and it encourages everyone who hears you to be more courteous. Once in a while, someone is really nice, and holds a door for me, or gets something off an upper shelf. It's so great! And once in a while when they offer, I don't need the help but I still say thank you with sincerity and a smile.

I am struggling to be independent and active. I like going out and doing things for myself. I hate asking for help. Yesterday I went to a small lake in a park near me, out in the country. My daughter helped me into the water. Joy! Once at about waist level in the water, I was free! No pain! No fear of falling! I could float, swim, even just tread water, and feel like I used to before I was disabled. No one and nothing is going to take my independence. I just wish people would stop making it harder.

By schyresti from North Royalton, OH

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