Cn: talk of consent, bodily autonomy, use of physical force to defend oneself
We know you want to help and be helpful. You don’t have to stop being helpful, but please ask first. Always ask first. Then help. If your help is wanted then help. If it is not, do not get angry at the person who refused the help. Why would you do that anyway? Secondly, go use that helping spirit and help someone else if you can.
When you encounter a disabled person and you want to help them. You need to always ask permission first. Especially when is comes to assistive devices. Assistive devices are a part of the person who uses them and you need to ask permission before moving them. You wouldn’t go up to an able bodied person and just grab them and start pushing them around. (Or if you would, uhm please don’t do that. That is not okay) This goes for someone in a wheelchair, a walker, ect. DO NOT just grab them and push them, ever. You have to ask permission first.
Consent is kind of really important. Especially when you are a stranger and you don’t know what a disabled person is dealing with. You could make things a whole lot worse with your unsolicited “help”. Say someone is taking a break and just sitting because they are dizzy. You just moving them could be dangerous, someone could get worse off, maybe get physically ill, even pass out. You don’t know, and when you don’t know don’t assume.
Ask permission to help someone.
Also if someone has an assistive device nearby. DO NOT move it. What if they need it and suddenly it’s gone. I know I like to keep my cane nearby at all times. That is not always convenient for other people. Oh and it falls a lot and makes a loud ass noise. However if I need it I need to be able to reach it. Especially if there is some kind of emergency and I gotta go quickly. Like to the restroom. Again if it needs to be moved, ask first. Maybe if we are in a restaurant we will ask to be moved somewhere where it won’t be in the way. Or sure maybe it can get folded up and stored a bit out of the way. Either way.
Now opening doors for people. Usually a pretty nice thing to do. Please be mindful of this though, if I am far away and you are just holding the door open for me, and then get aggravated because I am not moving fast enough? Please don’t even bother. Your help is annoying at best. I see you, I remember you.
Now something specific to look for when it comes to doors. Opening doors especially if someone is leaning into them as I always do, because it makes it easier on me when I am using my cane or walker. When you open that door out from under me, I could and have fallen before, or even stumbled and hurt myself (and have before). This is not okay.
Service dogs are another big one.You do not touch or interact with a service dog unless you have permission. Period. If a service dog is wearing a vest, they are working. You should never go up and try to pet the dog or distract them in any way. This means they are not working and doing their job. Which can again hurt the disabled person. One exception to this is if the owner is unconscious or in trouble the dogs vest might have an information pocket. Then again calling for help is still probably your first and safest bet. As well as the paramedics or what have you are trained to deal with these things. Looking for medical bracelets as well stuff like that.
It just takes a simple ask “can I help you?”, “need help with the door?” or “need some help?”. Simple short phrases that can make you feel good for being so willing to help poor disabled me (or other people), and can help us in not getting hurt by your overbearing generosity. Yes your “help” can be harmful. So please ask permission first.