I was thinking yesterday, while I listened to the piece on disability on Today yesterday, that part of the problem is that there aren’t degrees of disability - and not just that, but how you feel about it.
The woman who was on (sorry, don’t know who it was, as I came in part way through), became disabled later in life and really wanted a lot of help from others. Pete White was the other interviewee, he’s been blind since birth, doesn’t know any different (his words not mine), and doesn’t feel the need for so much help, as he’s not coping with something new to him (not that I think the newness of your disability makes any difference to the price of fish).
And it took me to the restaurant we went out to on Sunday. It has a very slippery floor, so my walking stick doesn’t grip too well, and I’m not sure my shoes do either, so I walk around in there very gingerly. The waitress was new - but we’ve been to this restaurant many times. I don’t know whether she thought it was my annual trip out from my care home, but she offered us a table near the toilet (which had nowhere to lean my stick, so I wasn’t for sitting there), and I didn’t think I’d need the loo anyway (even I can usually last an hour!). Then she “took” me to the toilet, and fussed greatly, as she’d worked in care, so was “used” to it.
But I’m not in care, I work part time, and getting to our toilets at work is far more difficult than getting to their toilet - but at work, my colleagues know me - and that I am quite capable of getting around, albeit slowly. Help is often offered, but no-one takes it the wrong way if it’s declined, as they know me.
But to the casual observer, you can’t tell.
It’s a bit like saying someone is a child, without the visual clue of being able to see them - you wouldn’t offer to take a 15-year-old to the toilet, but you would a 3-year-old. And I do mean offer, if your 3-year-old said no, you’d listen, wouldn’t you? You might think they’re overly ambitious, but you’d let them try.
And it struck me that it’s a bit like Paralympians. They’re graded, so they compete against someone with a similar level of limitation. But we aren’t. So how do we let people know what help is gratefully received, and what, to be honest, we’re finding patronising?
Does anyone have any ideas on this one?
Sorry, Steve, I’ve hijacked your thread - my bad.