This guest post is from Tooner (her pen name), an adult with cerebral palsy who blogs at Accessibility in Canada. She emailed me to say disabilities awareness is her passion, and that she and her coworker like to talk about Max and how his life is going. I asked about her assistant. She told me that her parents hire assistants privately, using government money, through a Canadian benefit program. "You should move to Canada! LOL, because there's a lot more help here," she wrote. Tempting. I love Tooner's spirit—and what she had to say.
The other day I was talking to two guys. One was non-verbal and one was verbal. The verbal one said "You know, he can't talk" about the non-verbal man. I replied, "Yes, I do know that but I still like to talk to him."
It seems that people don't recognize that just because someone is non-verbal, it doesn't mean they are not a person. Like Max, I have disabilities, which makes it hard for some people to understand me. My muscles won't always do what my mind tells them to.
Now that I have the help of my communications device, it makes it easier to have conversations and be clear about what I want. I use the Dynavox Dynawriter, a computer that can speak whatever I type. I also use it to communicate with my computer. It surprises me how some people still treat me as if I don't think for myself. One time, somebody asked my assistant if I could have ice-cream and I said no because I know he was just offering it to me because I am in a wheelchair. He wasn't offering ice-cream to everybody that walked by.
People don't always understand me. I'll say, "How's the weather outside?" for example and they'll say, "Your favorite colour is what?" Sometimes, people pretend they do know what I'm saying even if they don't. It's funny because I always know when they don't understand."
I am an adult that does not like to be treated like a child. It bugs me when people think that I don't do anything or I'm lazy. I'm aways excited to meet new people who treat me like the adult that I am. I really like it when people give me responsibilities and hold me accountable to get them done on time—just as everyone else is. Even though it may be hard to understand, I really like it when people talk to me instead of my assistant.
I'm always curious whether people have had experience with people with disabilities, but some people are more compassionate, I guess!
I would like to start a discussion on this. It's my passion to get people talking about issues like these because it makes me feel better and not as alone. How do other people tend to treat your child? If you are a person with disabilities, how do they treat you?