The girl in the wheelchair nodded

I did something stupid the other day. Well, not stupid.  I just didn't think. I made a presumption. 

We were in a car park when I noticed a Wheelchair Adapted Vehicle next to us. There was a lady in a wheelchair, must have been in her twenties. She had cerebral palsy. She was with another lady who was possibly a little older, possibly her relative or carer. 

I was curious about the vehicle and hung back to enquire about it. The able bodied lady was sorting out something in the front of the car so I smiled at the girl in the wheelchair, who smiled back at me. 

I waited until the able bodied lady came back to the rear of the car to ask her a question about the vehicle. She answered me and at the same time, said to the girl in the wheelchair "that's right isn't it?" To which the girl in the wheelchair nodded and said yes.

I did what most people do. I who have a child that has cerebral palsy decided that the person in the wheelchair wouldn't understand my question. How could I have been so presumptuous? But that's what we do, don't we? We are all guilty of creating stereotypes in our heads, or assuming certain things about someone. For a moment, I realised how easy it is to slip into that assumption. For the rest of the day I was kicking myself. 

It has made me think a lot about how, even though I live in this world of disability, I can be guilty of not offering the same understanding and courtesy that I would afford my son. 

I am still kicking myself now. But you can be sure I won't do that again.


Tara said…
The difference being you recognised your error. Give yourself a break and be ready for the next time x
Thomas Wright said…
I understand your concern and it’s a perfectly normal thing. Each of us has actually made a mistake like that. The good thing is that you realized it and that makes you a person. The thing is some wouldn’t care at all. They say and do things to offend PWDs so much and wouldn’t bother to think about it before they sleep. I’ve read so much about those experiences from PWDs and it makes me sad. The fact that you realized what you did afterwards means that you do care.
Thara said…
The difference is that you noticed and kicked yourself. Most PWOD- people without disabilities wouldnt even care or remember. And, I echo what the previous poster said, you do care.

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