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Families of disabled children often are the most accepting of their loved ones’ disability because they have no choice but even though you can give a better science lesson about my disability than I can, that doesn’t make you an expert. Some people in my family see more of my challenges than others and, to some extent, can understand how hard basic tasks are and will do their best to make my life as easy as possible and see my struggles but sometimes it’s frustrating to live with able-bodied people because people always say things that are ableist and you have to learn to work your way around inaccessibility because not everything is accessible. I do not expect my family to be experts on a disability they do not have but when it comes to being inclusive, I do hold my family to a slightly higher standard than I would a total stranger because my family sees me all the time and should prioritize accessibility and do their best to not be ableist. In this post, I am going to talk about what disabled people want their families to know about disability so they can better support them.
The language you use around me matters– Most of my family, if not all of them, claims that they read my blog and love that people are taking the initiative to learn from disabled individuals. I do not expect my able-bodied friends to always use the correct terminology because it’s not as automatic for them as it would be for a disabled person but if you know the correct terms, it’s important to disabled people that you don’t use the wrong ones. I have noticed that some family and friends make an effort to change the language they use when talking about disability, but I have also heard many people who claim they have read every post and still use ableist terms. What is even the point of reading a post from a disabled advocate if you are not going to take that information that is given to you and make changes? The language you use matters, and it’s especially important for family members not to use terms like “wheelchair-bound” when their disabled loved one has expressed that they despise that term because when you use incorrect terms, you are not being part of the solution but rather part of the problem. Disabled family members do not have to advocate for disability on the Internet, but you can show your support by changing the language you use because you never know who is listening when you are out in public..
I exercise in the best way I can. Disabled people get more workout suggestions than any other person because people don’t like what we do and think we could be doing something that burns more calories. As a disabled person, I cannot exercise to the extent an abled person can, and it’s so frustrating to me when someone holds me to the same exercise standards as abled-bodied people. There is nothing wrong with giving a disabled person fitness advice that has asked for it because sometimes people do have good ideas, but you should never assume I need it. I don’t often take workout suggestions from abled people, not because it’s a bad idea, but usually because you are suggesting forms of exercise I don’t enjoy and would never stick to. I don’t do the workout that necessarily burns the most calories, and I do the ones that I can stick to because it’s better to do a workout that burn a little more calorie than to never do it at all. Sometimes I wish family and friends understood that I can’t work out in the same way and didn’t always try to give me fitness advice I probably don’t need. Fitness is not as much of a priority for disabled people because a lot of us are very limited on the exercises that we can do and can’t rely on high-intensity workouts but instead we have to focus more on nutrition.
My bowel issues are embarrassing to talk about– I have no issues with family members talking about incontinence because it affects a lot of disabled people and we need to start normalizing uncomfortable topics but I do have a problem when people give too much information. I have talked about my bowel issues very vaguely on my blog because it’s very personal and sometimes embarrassing.. It is okay to talk about my bowel problems with your friends but you should be extremely vague about it because not all disabled people will want you to tell people how they go to the bathroom and some people might even feel embarrassed when you talk about personal topics with people we barely know. Bowel issues are something that a lot of disabled people but it can be very uncomfortable for us to talk about and you should respect boundaries by not giving people that don’t need to know details about our bowel regimen. Disabled people don’t even talk about their gut issues with their disabled friends which should tell you that if we don’t talk about it with people that get it that we probably don’t want people to know that don’t need to.
‘It’s okay to let disabled people fall sometimes– As a disabled person I fall more than the average because I don’t have as much stability as an abled-bodied person would Disabled parents sometimes will run to their child’s rescue every time they fall but I want to remind you that as long as I am not in an environment where I could seriously injure myself it’s okay to let me fall on my butt sometimes. You should let me fall sometimes because with every fall I learn what I did wrong which helps prevent the next one. Disabled people are at greater risk of falling and breaking a bone but you should still let your disabled loved one make mistakes because we are going to dumb things and you will not always be there to catch us.
Disabled people want to be included- My entire family is abled which means that sometimes they do activities I cannot participate in because my disability limits my ability to do that activity. I have accepted the fact that sometimes abled-bodied people will do things that aren’t accessible for me and that is okay but when you are disabled sometimes it can feel like everything is that way. Disabled people want to be included so please invite us and if it’s not accessible figure out a way to make it accessible or find an alternative activity because being included matters to us.
Disabled people do not expect family members without a disability to become experts on ableism and accessibility overnight but when you have family members who are disabled the way you talk about the disabled community is important to us. Family and friends should make an extra effort to use the correct terminology because it matters to disabled people and kind of hurts when family members don’t even bother with accessibility. Disability inclusion is not going to be as automatic for abled-bodied people as it would be for disabled people, but you have to try to do better because your ableist comments affect disabled people negatively and is the reason why so many disabled people struggle with acceptance. What do you think families need to know to better support disabled people?
I read all comments because I love hearing your thoughts but please be kind, keep all comments relevant to the post you are commenting on and your language clean. You don’t have to agree with everyone, but you should be respectful of everyone’s different points of view because rude comments toward me or any other commenters will not be tolerated. If you see that someone is struggling, it’s okay to offer support but please do not give out any kind of medical advice in the comment section of my blog even if you are a doctor because I am not qualified to diagnose anyone and can be held liable if it’s bad advice. The comment section of my blog is not for promoting yourself and any links that are dropped without my permission will immediately be edited out. If you violate my policy, your comment will be edited or completely removed from my site.