Don’t pity us; but don’t ignore us either. Treat us like we’re persons just like you but with, well, a difference.
Today I shared an article on disability in FB. A professor friend shared it in his timeline. I was touched. He also put “HT my name.”
As he had tagged me in his post, I was “informed” okay notified each time someone posted a comment under his “share”
The first comment – “What does HT mean?”
Professor answered, sharing a link explaining HT.
Second comment by another friend of the professor – something like, “Ah, so that’s what HT means.”
No reference to the article, maybe they didn’t know how nor want to react? I can almost imagine the professor’s disappointment because he is one good person who’s most kind and considerate.
But truth to tell, I’ve experienced the same first-hand, being dismissed because I surmise, people didn’t know how to behave, what to say.
The most glaring was when I first sawmy piano teacher after maybe 40 years. I was so excited when I did, in Shang Mall. I hurriedly prodded my husband to take me to her. I introduced myself, saying “I’m (my name). I was your student. I am the sister of (my sister’s name)” who was her friend. She muttered, “Ah, ho-o (yes).” That was it. I felt like I had been doused with cold water.
Just a few weeks ago, I also saw another sister’s friend. I said hello. She looked at me. I said my family name, she said “Ho-o, bal-an ko (Yes, I know).” Then she asked, “What happened to you?” I said I had a tumor in the spine that paralyzed me. She asked, “But you can still stand and walk?” (Maybe she thought I was just taking a break from those two activities?) I said “No.” SHe then said, “O sige.”
Don’t get me wrong. We don’t want to be fawned over, to be patronized. But do treat us as normal people. Even if I am in a wheelchair, I can sign for my credit card, I can write my name and address on the receipt for my purchase. I can bake, I can cook, I can read, I can write, I can do many things “normal” people can.
Having been on a wheelchair far longer than the time I was not in one (32 vs 26 years), I am not as sensitive as I used to be. But I still notice such details because they’re such glaring ones.
I guess it’s not surprising that people don’t know how to deal with my ilk, not unless they have a friend or relative similarly situated. Or if they have a healthy dose of empathy in their beings.
The article/link I shared which I was referring to earlier: http://www.vox.com/2014/5/8/5694742/are-you-a-jerk-to-people-with-disabilities-without-even-knowing-it