The Internet is filled with articles and lists about what you should never say to a person with a disability. These are social etiquette rules made up by someone who most likely is not disabled and are using their personal opinions instead of facts. Many of these “rules” end up making a person with a disability feel even more of an outsider. The truth is: If you want to make someone with a disability feel good about themselves, start by saying hello.
Many people with a disability feel shunned from everyday conversation and society as a whole because people are so afraid to be offensive that they disregard the person altogether. This leaves the person with the disability feeling awful and ashamed of their condition and wishing they were hidden away at home. Anyone and everyone can help this situation simply by saying “hi.”
Tell Me About Yourself Is A Magical Phrase
A person with a disability does not want to spend their day talking about their disability and the things they cannot enjoy. Actually, no one wants to do that. The best way to break the ice with anyone is to ask them to tell you about themselves. This works in any social situation and with any person, disabled or not. People like to feel as if others are interested.
People with disabilities have jobs, hobbies, families, and passions. They are artists, parents, doctors and entertainers. They are sports fanatics, movie enthusiasts and even wine connoisseurs. They are simply people.
While it is a little rude to ask “what caused your disability,” even if you are interested, a person may tell you the story behind their disability. If they believe that you are truly interested in them as a human being without being prompted, most disabled people will share how they became disabled.
If you really want to make sure that you treat a person with a disability in a way that makes them feel good and equal, just treat them like you would your friend. Don’t be overly encouraging and start spouting off that they are an inspiration. That places their disability in the spotlight. Don’t talk down to them as if they cannot understand you. Simply act as you would with a friend.
Chances are, if you treat someone like a friend, they will in turn become one.