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  1. #1
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    Invisible

    How do you react to people with disabilities? For me, I've never been close to anyone with a severe disability and we were always segregated in school, so I'm truly awkward when the situation arises. I don't want to act patronizing or sympathetic just because. I want to act normal, but it's hard. It is something I am working on and even so it's proving to be difficult.

    My wife is volunteering at a brain injury center providing art classes. This center is specific for people who were not born with the issue. Obviously the stories a gut-wrenching, but one guy said one of the hardest parts of sustaining his injury is that he became invisible to society. That comment hit home with me. I feel like my kids having been integrated with disabled children throughout their school years and are much better equipped to act normal in these situations.

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    You can put buttahflake on ignore, it's perfectly OK.

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    Quote Originally Posted by muted View Post
    You can put buttahflake on ignore, it's perfectly OK.
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    It's awkward for me as well. I make a conscious effort to look and say hey or smile.

    Same with homeless, even though they'll think you'll give them money which I generally won't anymore.
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    It totally depends on the disability, but the common thread is to treat people like they're a human, and adjust course as the situation unfolds.

    There was a kid in the second grade in my class who was born blind. Cool kid, made friends with just about everyone, you just had to talk to him and you knew he was pretty awesome and very smart.

    In high school, there was another kid who had cerebral palsy, but he was still able to play marimba and the xylophone. Nice guy, but some folks made fun of the way he spoke because high schoolers are assholes. Occasionally needed a hand carrying stuff.

    Also in high school, we had to put my grandmother in a nursing home as alzheimer's and dementia slowly took its toll. Being in that home was an eye opening experience to mental disability, but at this point I knew the common thread is to continue to treat them like humans and friends. If it looks like they need help, ask them what you can do for them. Some are stubborn and don't want the help, they are still prideful. Don't take that away from them no matter how long it takes. Others will be grateful for the help, use that moment to talk to them like another human. If they can't respond, or are very slow to respond, be very patient. If you have to act, tell them everything that you are going to do before you do it. Don't make a big deal out of it. Once you're truly talking to these people (and in this case it may only come in small bits), you'll find they're just people same as the rest of us. There was one resident who was always on the lookout for a new girlfriend. On the surface, that sounds like a haha old man joke, but the guy had lost his wife some 30 years back and was seriously trying to meet the other women in the home because he wanted a relationship. Go be that dude's wingman and push his wheelchair next door.

    These days I'm coming across more folks with amputations, many are ex-military. In general they have a good sense of humor about it, but once you talk to them and really get to know them, you'll find out that many of them carry a lot of emotional baggage with it and need someone to talk to.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buster Highmen View Post
    It's awkward for me as well. I make a conscious effort to look and say hey or smile.

    Same with homeless, even though they'll think you'll give them money which I generally won't anymore.
    Most of the time I just try and treat them like I do with every other person. I still struggle with that, but I never really try and put any focus on them being 'different' from the average human being. Cannot imagine how much a struggle it must be for them to integrate post-injury.

    But with homelessness I am usually at a loss of what to do. Have had too many bad experiences with interacting with a homeless person to the point where I can't even make eye contact anymore or even acknowledge them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Buster Highmen View Post
    Same with homeless.
    In general, I try to never make eye contact with homeless on the street. You become a target.

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    Quote Originally Posted by muted View Post
    You can put buttahflake on ignore, it's perfectly OK.
    I laft

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    They are just people. I try to treat just about everyone the same. Labels suck.

    One year, I was able to ski with a maggot who won some sort of competition at The Can., and became its blogger. I forget his name, but he was a great dood. Years back, he sustained some sort of injury and was a sit-skier with a mono ski (SuperBro, of course). He ripped.

    Regarding the homeless...I think that it depends upon my mood. However, on occasion, I have had no problem shooting the breeze and/or donating to their cause
    “A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.”
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4matic View Post
    In general, I try to never make eye contact with homeless on the street. You become a target.
    I used to avoid interacting with them but now I'm the opposite. I always smile at them, say things to them I'd say to any other stranger, a little more friendly and personal if it's someone I see frequently. I just find ways to avoid giving them cash. I'll offer to bring them back food if they say they need money for food. I'll offer to wait for the bus with them if they say they need money for bus fare. About half the time the offer of food is accepted. Offer to wait for the bus and pay the fare (rather than giving them a dollar) is never accepted. so far.

    How about how the grifter sitting in The White House treats the disabled?
    Go that way really REALLY fast. If something gets in your way, TURN!

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    Treat them like any other person. If you're an asshole to people without disabilities, you'll probably be an asshole to people with. If they look to need help with something, ask them if you can help. Just like you would with a "normal", old, young, injured person, etc. Some disabilities are severe and you won't get a response or a poor response. Some are on the surface and the person has full mental capacity. Either way, they're just people with their own story. Some of them are assholes too. You'll figure it out.

    *My mom worked with disabled people her entire career and I've spent some time in high school and college working in the field with disabled folks. I'm still around them some. It's actually pretty fun. The severely mentally disabled people usually have the biggest smiles on their good days.

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    It's was awkward for me the first time when I was about 14. I would sit with the teen next door to give her parents a chance to get out together for a few hours. I had orders from my mom to "Be sure to talk with Julie" who giggled a lot and spoke jibberish. It was awkward for me but she seemed to enjoy the "conversation". So that they don't feel invisible, be outgoing and engage a disabled person as you would in any other social situation where you feel comfortable. "Hi I'm..........., what are you making? " is a good start. It will seem awkward for you at first like the first time on skis or bicycle and get easier fast. It is not awkward for them. You made them visible.
    A few people feel the rain. Most people just get wet.

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    Told this story a couple times but here it is again:

    I was in a wheelchair for 2 months and it was eye-opening. People will not look you in the eye and step around you. Seldom do they help you with a door. I would have thought to anyone who had actually seen me they would have realized I was not someone who was wheelchair bound but rather someone who had been in an accident and was temporarily in need of a wheel chair (my entire right arm was in a cast and my right leg was in a soft brace plus my chair was bargain basement). None-the-less it was as if I didn’t exist. “Don’t stare at the cripple!” was the vibe I got. One of the few people that came up to me and spoke was a woman who embraced my shoulders and said “I have a son in a wheelchair” as if to give me hope or something. There were a few who recognized I was an accident victim and asked about it but in two months I could count them on one hand.

    As for things being ADA compliant I can tell you while the idea is there the function more than often is not. Sure they have a wheel chair stall in the bathroom but can you get in with your chair and close the door behind you? That is if you can even get into the bathroom which may be located down a narrow hall with sharp corners. Then once you’re in the stall you better hope they toilet is in the right spot for you to slide onto it. I could at least hop on one foot and maneuver but what is someone with no use of their legs to do?

    And don’t get me started on the abled bodied who have multiple stalls to choose from but take the wheelchair stall because they want to spread out. I waited many times for someone to get out of that stall when all the others were empty. I had one choice, they had many and they took mine and for me it wasn’t a matter of just walking in and dropping trou to pee. It was difficult and time consuming with one arm, balancing on one leg. There were times I came close to not making it when I was forced to wait.

    I will say that public transportation people were the most helpful and kind from taxi drivers to Seattle Metro they made my life easier.

    My experience has made me hyper aware of what life is like for the non-able bodied from sidewalks to aisle ways to public services. It has also made me more likely to recognize someone in a wheelchair or on crutches etc. I make eye contact and smile like I would anyone else.
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    I was waiting to cross at a light with a group of people when a guy in a wheelchair approached the curb and turned his chair to get up the the ramp in reverse. I went over, grabbed the handles and helped him up. He was a little whacked out so we didn't have any conversation. When I crossed the street a woman passed me and said "That was a nice thing to do". I was thinking it's too bad being nice is not normal and deemed worthy of notice.
    A few people feel the rain. Most people just get wet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KQ View Post
    Told this story a couple times but here it is again:

    I was in a wheelchair for 2 months and it was eye-opening. People will not look you in the eye and step around you. Seldom do they help you with a door. I would have thought to anyone who had actually seen me they would have realized I was not someone who was wheelchair bound but rather someone who had been in an accident and was temporarily in need of a wheel chair (my entire right arm was in a cast and my right leg was in a soft brace plus my chair was bargain basement). None-the-less it was as if I didn’t exist. “Don’t stare at the cripple!” was the vibe I got. One of the few people that came up to me and spoke was a woman who embraced my shoulders and said “I have a son in a wheelchair” as if to give me hope or something. There were a few who recognized I was an accident victim and asked about it but in two months I could count them on one hand.

    As for things being ADA compliant I can tell you while the idea is there the function more than often is not. Sure they have a wheel chair stall in the bathroom but can you get in with your chair and close the door behind you? That is if you can even get into the bathroom which may be located down a narrow hall with sharp corners. Then once you’re in the stall you better hope they toilet is in the right spot for you to slide onto it. I could at least hop on one foot and maneuver but what is someone with no use of their legs to do?

    And don’t get me started on the abled bodied who have multiple stalls to choose from but take the wheelchair stall because they want to spread out. I waited many times for someone to get out of that stall when all the others were empty. I had one choice, they had many and they took mine and for me it wasn’t a matter of just walking in and dropping trou to pee. It was difficult and time consuming with one arm, balancing on one leg. There were times I came close to not making it when I was forced to wait.

    I will say that public transportation people were the most helpful and kind from taxi drivers to Seattle Metro they made my life easier.

    My experience has made me hyper aware of what life is like for the non-able bodied from sidewalks to aisle ways to public services. It has also made me more likely to recognize someone in a wheelchair or on crutches etc. I make eye contact and smile like I would anyone else.
    I had not read this before. I'm sure that was incredibly eye-opening.

    This experience has been great for my wife as well. She has always worked with kids with varying disabilities, but this is her first time with adults.

    Many and maybe most have a hard time verbalizing all on different levels, so communicating is challenging. She really has to focus, but once you get to know the person it becomes easier. They also use ipads to type. There is one guy during the group trivia that knows every single answer, but he doesn't answer unless called upon because he struggles...with something. And I mean every answer! The answer goes unanswered and they say, "ok Tim, what's the answer?" And he answers correctly... every time It's awesome, but must be quite painful for this poor guy.

    Many of the folks have been in motorcycle accidents, but one woman who cannot really speak and wears a knit hat all the time is a victim of domestic violence. That one just breaks me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by schindlerpiste View Post
    They are just people. I try to treat just about everyone the same. Labels suck.

    One year, I was able to ski with a maggot who won some sort of competition at The Can., and became its blogger. I forget his name, but he was a great dood. Years back, he sustained some sort of injury and was a sit-skier with a mono ski (SuperBro, of course). He ripped.

    Regarding the homeless...I think that it depends upon my mood. However, on occasion, I have had no problem shooting the breeze and/or donating to their cause
    Andy Campbell I believe, super nice guy and yes, he ripped.
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    At the end of the day, they're all individuals just like anybody else with individual disabilities, so there's definitely not a one-size-fits-all approach. Just be as normal to them as you would anybody else. If you noticed an able-bodied person struggling to get through a door because they had their hands full, or a mom with a stroller struggling to get in, you'd likely just politely offer to help and grab the door for them or lend a hand. No different than people with disabilities. Nothing to be awkward about.

    Like said above, some have a tendency to be a bit prideful and get mad at the offer to help, but I'd say that's the minority. Most have shown me appreciation. Had a good friend once who had wicked cerebral palsy. Was bound to wheelchair and talked like you would expect. Get to talking to him and he was one of THE most inspirational, positive, smartest, coolest people you'd ever meet. He seriously appreciated our circle of friends dragging him around to events, including him in everything, and just treating him like one of the dudes. I lived in a second story condo with no wheelchair access so whenever I'd throw a party, we'd just get a couple of guys to carry him upstairs. Guy was rad. He'd always tell us how blessed he was. Maybe it sounds cheesy, but having people like that in your friends isn't just beneficial to them, it's even more of a benefit to you. Worth the effort. You'll get over any pre-conceived awkwardness in about 10 seconds, so seriously. It's nothing to stress about.

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    That's right. THANKS Buzz!
    “A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.”
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    No idea what he's up to now but Andy was/is inspiring. http://andycampbell.photography/impossible

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    Quote Originally Posted by iceman View Post
    No idea what he's up to now but Andy was/is inspiring. http://andycampbell.photography/impossible
    Yeah, Andy is a rad dude. Remember his pond skim!? That was epic!

    When I worked a TSV we used to tune a sit skiers ski for him and just generally help him out whenever he needed something, but for the most part, he was independent...it was his nature. He was injured racing motocross. He ripped on the sit-ski. It was a sick mono-shock set up for back then. He actually designed and welded the thing together himself. Pretty bitchin'.

    I guess in hindsight, this thread is more about mental disabilities that often cross over to physical as well.

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    talking to someone in a chair i take a knee so I am at their level
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    I don't know how I do in dealing with disabled people, probably about as introvertedly as I do with everyone else, outside of work. But I'm proud of my sons--their frat had a brother who had profound CP--mentally he was smart as hell but he was nearly quadriplegic. The brothers often had to carry him and his heavy motorized chair up and down stairs--but there were always enough bodies around to do it. Other than that he was just another member.

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    I went to school with a few guys that were born with developmental delays, some worse than others. I did some mean shit occasionally, but I was a stupid kid. I grew and learned to accept and respect and like these kids. And I tried to educate other people about them.
    My Dad has had his site degrade to the point where he is no bind, and uses a cane and requires help getting around. The amount of people that cut him off or kick his cane because they're not paying attention is astounding. I've told him to smack people that kick his cane "Oops, sorry, I'm blind".
    My wife worked in the largest homeless shelter in Canada for a while. Her experience there really opened my eyes. I don't give guys money, but I don't ignore them either. I talk to them like they're human beings now. If I see someone standing at an intersection with a sign, I give them my lunch or a bottle of water, since they need it more than me.
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  24. #24
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    With physical handicaps just act like you're talking to a woman with huge tits (and you don't want to get yelled at!) - look 'em in the eye and pay attention to what they're saying and ignore the rest. They don't want to be judged or categorized because of their handicap (or their tits). Do that and you might make a friend.

    Mental handicaps are harder because it's tough to know what you (and they) are dealing with. A neutral-but-open expression, a willingness to give them a chance to speak before making judgements, and a little physical space are all positives.

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    Quote Originally Posted by iceman View Post
    With physical handicaps just act like you're talking to a woman with huge tits (and you don't want to get yelled at!) - look 'em in the eye and pay attention to what they're saying and ignore the rest. They don't want to be judged or categorized because of their handicap (or their tits). Do that and you might make a friend.
    Ha! That's actually perfect.

    As far as mental handicaps, as tough as it is, I think it's best policy to just give them the benefit of the doubt no matter their outward appearance or capability to communicate. Sure, many people really are limited, but many are also perfectly mentally capable only limited by a physical handicap or some sort of disconnect (like CP). As you continue to get to know them, you'll learn an individual's limitations (or capabilities) and adapt easily enough. I think EVERYONE appreciates being treated like normal adults, and with dignity and respect. Ever seen well-intentioned people talk to mildly mentally retarded adults as if they were little children? It's truly facepalm worthy.

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