Saturday, November 5, 2011

hands off please

I'm standing in line at the bus stop, and everyone has gotten off. I use the tip of my cane to lightly touch the person in front of me, so I can tell when it is time to move forward. Suddenly, someone squeezes their hand hard around my upper arm and propels me forward. I tell her "I'm fine thank you, yet she does not let go. I wiggle my arm signaling that I am uncomfortable, and she continues to hold.
While I sometimes ask for help with directions somewhere or other tasks, I want it to be on my terms, and grabbing me is not the way to be helpful.
First of all, I am not comfortable with a lot of people touching me, particularly random people I don’t know. Most people keep traditional American personal space manners, but when a person has a disability, that respectful boundary seems to disappear. Second, grabbing my hand/wrist/arm is sometimes physically painful and unbalancing. Some days, I am dizzy or my ankle and/or hip is locking, so grabbing me unexpectedly throws off my already unsteady balance. With that being said, if I am about to fall down a 10-foot manhole or something heavy is falling towards my head, than grabbing me to move me out of the way of danger would be greatly appreciated.
A better way, if you see a disabled person and want to help, is to ask “do you need help.” If the person says, yes, you can ask him or her the best way that you can assist. If the person says no, continue with whatever it was that you were doing, and please don’t feel offended with the no response.

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