View Full Version : Need information from people with disabilities

12-22-2006, 02:12 AM
If you have a physical disability, I would appreciate hearing from you. One of my characters is in a wheelchair. Other characters have other physical disabilities. I'm especially interested in any "workarounds" you've come up with to adapt, or experiences you've had. Or other details. For example, have you ever used the word TAB to refer to the "Temporarily Able-Bodied"? Things like that.

01-04-2007, 02:26 AM

Kate Thornton
01-04-2007, 09:18 PM
I had a stroke a few years ago. I work full time as an engineer under sub-contract to Boeing. My left side does not work very well and I walk with a leg brace.

I type one-handed and use a small standard keyboard. I have a special chair (ergonomic office chair) adjusted to support my left side a little higher than the right. I get to park really close because I have DP plates on my car, or a "Princess Pass" as we call the placards & plates. Everyone is considerate, but mostly people forget about the disability when you are working on a team. It just becomes part of you the way one person's dress habits or another person's social habits become part of their package. I actually forget I am disabled at work sometimes until I have to walk to the bathroom or something and have to drag my leg out and make it work. It's weird, because at home I am *constantly* reminded of what I can't do, but at work, I am only reminded of everything I *can* do.

Hope this helps.

01-04-2007, 10:42 PM
M.A. Gardener-- I have a friend who uses a wheelchair. Not "in" a wheelchair. Not confined to one, or anything else. She despises the politically-correct, happy little euphemisms to describe disabilities, well-meaning though they are. (Differently-abled drives her nuts.) I remember her laughing one time telling me, "I've adjusted just fine. It's strangers who haven't. It's exhausting to keep assuring people they're not offending me."

She's got a little motorized chair that zips around tight spaces, a carpenter's apron with a bunch of pockets for all the necessities hanging on the side, and one of those crab-pincer reachy-grabby tools on her lap she's a whiz with.

As far as TAB goes, I can tell you she'd let me have it if I ever used it. As she once told me, imagining everyone else in a roulette game where at any moment they too could lose use of their legs at any second is a hell of a mean-spirited way to make yourself feel better.

Bottom line, I think that personal reactions to physical circumstance vary with the person, and there's no standard profile that requires your characters to behave other than precisely in tune with who they are.

01-07-2007, 03:15 AM
I have disabilities and I consider myself handicapped, as simple as that. I hate the little politically correct idioms.

Mac H.
01-07-2007, 07:51 AM
I've mentioned these before, but:

a. When people see someone in a wheelchair, they often assume that the person is totally unable to walk. This often isn't true .. which gives people a hell of a surprise when the supposedly wheelchair bound person gets up and walks away !

b. There are often other affects to the disability that may not be so publically visible .. but the character *may* find more annoying than the more obvious affects of the disability. (eg: Problems with bowel & bladder control)

Good luck,


01-09-2007, 07:15 AM
My mom's been in a wheelchair since I was 9, and one thing I've noticed, from accompanying her to doctor's appointments on numerous occasions, is that surprisingly often, male doctors who don't already know her will NOT TALK TO HER, but talk to ME instead--I mean the doctor will say, "Can your mother stand at all? Does your mother experience such-and-such pain?" All the routine questions doctors ask patients to get to understand the patient's condition. The egotistical male blowhard doctors are like this. They seem to assume that since she's physically disabled, there's probably also something wrong with her mind, so they talk to the person accompanying her, to her caretaker, rather than to her! It's so obnoxious! My mother's an extremely articulate woman, and she looks perfectly normal--I mean her face is totally normal, she doesn't look retarded or anything--but the wheelchair makes some people (especially egotistical male doctors) treat her this way. I have had to actually tell the doctor to ask her his questions, instead of me.

Just an odd little detail for you...

01-09-2007, 07:26 AM
I use a chair to get around, I am not confined to it though and can get up and hop around, which I do on ocassion when needed. What kinds of things are you asking about workarounds for M.A. Gardener? I put my chair in my trunk myself, many people have the kind of chair that the wheels come off and they can easily manuever it into a seat behind them or next to them and go on their merry way driving along.

I have the right foot so the only restrictions on my license is for eyeglasses and automatic transmission, like I would ever dream of driving a stick, heck I had trouble with a stick before the accident so what would ever possess me to try again now with some kind of a crutch for the clutch? Not this gal, not as long as my chevy is still running. LOL! ;)

I get stared at a lot by people when I pull up to the disabled parking spaces, but then they see me getting out my chair and they either smile and nod or look away in shame I think I'd call it. I don't have a ramp at my front door, I have a small four inch step I have to 'jump' the chair up and over which I can do easily.

I have moved furniture with my chair before, I have heaved huge pit (the sectional sofa style) pieces from one apartment to the next, I mean a one bedroom to a two bedroom in the same complex. It was quite a move, but I definitely do not let this disability of mine hold me back from doing things I want to do. If you can be more specific about what you're looking for I might be able to help. :)

01-09-2007, 07:34 AM
My mom had to use a wheelchair for a few years because of MS. She was okay with the chair, but horrified with problems like bladder control. A few things you might not think about:

My brother and I used to have her time us as we took turns assembling and disassembling her chair to put it in the trunk. We competed for the best times, and it was quite the game.

My brother was walking alongside my mother when his fingers got caught in her spokes. He wound up okay, but she was feeling guilty for weeks.

Her legs were useless, but she could drive with an adapter that allowed her to push the gas and break with special levers that connected to the pedals. My father installed it for her.

01-09-2007, 01:26 PM
I think it would also be interested to see what kind of disabilities that is really being asked about here.

My brother is hearing impaired with severe speech impediments because of it. I find it as annoying as he does when people look around at everyone else to 'intrepret' for him because they don't take the time to try to understand him themselves. Or how the telephone is a constant irritation because he can't hear on it well and his side of the conversation is garbled enough already.

But I've done days where I just don't *feel* like talking to people but have to be out and about. I found once, on a two week vacation, that I had gone four days without actually speaking to anyone! It's amazing the way that people just seem to ignore you when you don't return their useless small talk. I've even seen some people get angry with others I know who are mute or Deaf because they don't respond to them.

Or, how some people, seeing hearing aids or other signs of a person being Deaf or hearing impaired seem to think they can say whatever they want about a person right in front of them. Imagine the surprise of a few people who have forced me out of my self imposed silence when they began saying things after they ask me a question and I answer in ASL. yeah, the guilt on their faces when I - forcefully - ask to speak to a manager says it all.

The one thing that should never go out of vogue, however, is common courtesy. Not just for those with disabilities, but for most people. Giving up your seat for the elderly, or women, or children shouldn't be considered something the other guy does. See someone approaching the door? Where's the harm in holding it open for them? (and see how many people will hold the second door for you.) I know when I was forced to get around on crutches for a month I was feeling extremely guilty when an elderly woman held doors open for me. Why? Because as a young, able bodied person it should have been ME showing HER that sign of respect.