Whenever I meet someone new whether it be online or in real life, the first question they will usually ask is something along the lines of “I hope you don’t mind me asking but what is wrong you?”. I do have to answer that quite often but I don’t mind. It does get a bit tedious and it would probably be easier to carry a box of leaflets explaining Friedreich’s Ataxia around with me to give out when asked. Also, a bit of humour would make being asked about why am in a wheelchair less boring and repetitive. Disability Horizons recently came up with a list of alternative responses to lighten the mood, which can be read here: http://disabilityhorizons.com/2014/05/why-am-i-disabled-well-10-funny-answers-to-a-common-question/
However, I do not understand why some disabled people get offended when someone enquires about there disability. The “I hope you don’t mind me asking” part is not needed personally. The question does get tiresome but surely it’s nice to know that someone is concerned/intrigued about how you became disabled as opposed to being completely disinterested. I always say that people should see the person and not the impairment but it is only natural for a human to wonder. I’d be slightly worried if someone did not ask why I am a ‘Wheelchair Boy’.
I’ll give an example of what goes through my mind when I meet a disabled stranger to illustrate that everyone cannot help but be intrigued by a slight difference. Firstly, I try not to stare because I know that the feel of glaring eyes is not great but it’s quite difficult when you’re consciously trying not to. Curiosity soon gets the better of me and I become desperate to find out what happened. Were they born with one arm or was it blown off in an explosion? Did it become infected and have to be amputated or was it some sort of accident? This sense of wonder happens to the best of us, even ‘Wheelchair Boy’.
Annoying questions for a disabled person to answer but necessary to make others less ignorant. How is society going to learn otherwise?
Bye for now!