Jan 17, 2007

Disability Questions

I got these from Emma, who answered them very well. They seemed like an excellent place to start this blog.

1) If you could re-live your life without having your disability, would you?

This one is simple: no. My experiences throughout my life have been shaped by my various disabilities, and in so doing they shaped who I am today. They taught me patience, empathy, pragmatism, even cleanliness. Before my disabilities became more apparent to me, I was a very heartless and cruel child. They have shown me that my friends are truly my friends, and people who will never sweat the small stuff, or even the medium sized stuff. I would not trade my identity to suddenly be living the life of a person who could always hear, who had always been healthy and athletic and mobile. I have struggled, many a time, but my struggles have value.

2) Do you want people to show interest by asking personal questions about your disability?

As long as not all of their questions are such, certainly. Its natural for peole to be curious, and I'm glad they would rather ask than make silly assumptions. I believe the more people learn about how disabled life is, the more they will realize that we aren't all that different from them.

However, I very much dislike when people ask questions they would prefer not to have answered honestly and fully. If I am asked such a question, I had better have time to answer it properly, and you had better not act offended at my answer.

3) What is the hardest thing in life for you to do?

My biggest challenge is asking for and accepting help with tasks that I technically can do, but shouldn't be doing.

4) What is the hardest obstacle that you have to overcome often?

My pride, and other's assumptions of my capabilities

5) Do you resent people that try to help you?

I will glady accept help, even misguided help, from someone who is genuinely a kind person obviously looking out for my interests. Not only do they take "no" for an answer graciously, but they realize when they're getting in my way instead of helping me. (This often happens with would-be door openers.) I will accept that my friends are really trying to help me when they force food on me thinking I'm hypoglycemnic, even if I'm actually not.

I do resent people who help me in a patronizing manner, projecting an assumption of my incompetency. I resent people who help the poor wheelie to make themselves feel better, but ignore those who use crutches. I resent people who can't take no for an answer, or endanger me in the course of "helping". I resent those who insist on helping because I have to take something slowly, or think through the mechanics of a task. I resent those who help me to make themselves look better, or because they feel they have to. (Church people often fall astray of this one.)

6) Would you rather do things on your own?

If I can, without a lot of extra pain, without being a huge bother, absolutely.

7) Do you feel any anger towards God because of your disability?

I used to, but I don't anymore. Back then, I couldn't see any of the good results that could come of it. I wanted to be a missionary, I promised to do my best to become a missionary, and I couldn't understand why he took away my ability to serve him. I didn't understand what I had done so wrong that I would be cursed like this.

I have learned a lot since then. I am more of a missionary than I ever could have been traipsing around Lapland for two weeks. I have full faith that God has a plan for my life, and for my pain and trouble, and that it is worthwhile and will bear good fruit. I don't know what those fruit will look like, I suspect I won't know until I finish this journey. I have gotten to see small flowerings, though, and that will have to be enough for now.

8) What do you dislike the most of other people around you (ex- people staring, pointing, etc)?

I really hate it when people look away from me, but are talking to me. I can't lipread them, and the people who are doing it aren't familiar enough to me to hear decently otherwise. Other than that, I'd prefer they didn't throw rocks at me or anything like that. Pointing, staring, all of that is annoying but I can deal with it.

9) What is the best way for us to help you?

Step 1: Ask if I need help
Step 2: Assume I know what I'm doing
Step 3: Follow my directions, its better for both of us

10) Do you feel awkward when you are around people that are different than you?

I feel awkward around openly mean people. That is a difference I don't deal with well, finally being good natured myself. I don't do well among people who grew up with lots of money and the attendant luxuries. Other than that... I know and like people of many nationalities, levels of mental and physical ability, heights, interests, etc.

People are more alike than they are different.

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