When a member of a family is dealing with a physical or mental disability, that person is not alone. With them, their entire family is going through the struggle. When disability is a part of the daily life, things are different and the routine of the family is also affected.
The challenges the family has to face may not be as drastic as the person is facing, but nonetheless, they are there. They have to listen to different questions and theories of people, and at times, you also have to tolerate inconsiderate behaviors of others. Below are some pointers that people should remember when communicating with a family facing disability.
1. Asking about Visible Disability is not offensive
People tend to get so anxious just by watching the person with disability that they end being rude to them. It is not offensive to question about disability that is visible. If you see a little girl in a cute wheelchair, it is all right to complement on her choice. You are not making fun of their disability, instead you are trying to include her in and make her feel better.
Some parents scold their children for asking about someone else’s disability in front of them. However, it is normal for kids to be curious and ask questions, and the person suffering and their family will not mind answering. This is because it raises awareness and promote acceptance in the society.
2. Do not Question their Decisions
When someone else is dealing with disability, you are in no position to question their choices because it might be the only option they had. Do not tell them ‘this treatment is better than that one’, or ‘this medicine will be more effective’ or ‘why would you choose that over this’. The choices in this situation are not easy to make. The family wants what is best for the child/person, so before you make any judgment, see the options they were presented with.
3. Try being Empathetic
You cannot understand their situation until and unless the roles are reversed. So be considerate and empathetic to them, and welcome them with open arms. You can keep the door open when you see the father bringing their child on the wheelchair, or empty the elevator and let the family go first. You can encourage your children to be friends with theirs and accept them the way they are. These little things can make a great difference, and will give more courage to the family.
4. Do not Use Offensive Terms
When asking about the disability of someone’s family member, do not say they are a retard or an abnormal person. These terms are hurtful, and can lower the morale of the family. It makes the person feel inferior to others. Therefore, you should think before you speak, and look for empathetic and kind words.
Everyone faces different challenges in life. Be kind, and accept people the way they are.