People with disabilities took to Twitter to share all the strange ways that able-bodied people have treated them
There’s currently a trending hashtag labeled #ablesareweird and it highlights all the very strange, rude, and downright disrespectful ways that able-bodied people have treated people with disabilities. A lot of the encounters described below are…really something else.
It all started with @Imani_Barbarin’s tweet. “I think about the time an abled random stranger threw my crutch into the pool ‘to help me swim’ a lot,” she wrote, and tacked on #ablesareweird.
I think about the time an abled random stranger threw my crutch into the pool “to help me swim” a lot. #AbledsAreWeird
— Crutches&Spice (@Imani_Barbarin) March 15, 2019
Her tweet racked up more than 8,000 likes, 1,300 retweets, and a whole lot of responses. She was far from alone when it came to wildly inappropriate encounters with able-bodied people. First of all, some noted that they can’t even go to the bathroom in peace. One woman literally crawled under the stall to try to help out.
That time I was in the accessible bathroom stall & without warning a woman crawled under the door & into the stall with me to ask if I needed help. I’d given no indication that I needed help (because I didn’t). She just saw my wheelchair & assumed incompetence. #AbledsAREWeird
— Katy (@Katydid516) March 16, 2019
You too?!?! I’ve had this happen to me.
Or, my teachers used to send OTHER STUDENTS after me to check.
— Crutches&Spice (@Imani_Barbarin) March 16, 2019
Others recounted the many times that they were treated like children because of their disability. One particularly repulsive example: “I was in a gov office yesterday & my mum (who is my carer) was helping me with paperwork, proof of ID, etc & the man serving us made jokes about me ‘being a mummy’s girl & child,’” Twitter user @Montanalsabella wrote. “When i got back in my wheelchair he said in a baby voice ‘are you spoon fed too?’
i was in a gov office yesterday & my mum (who is my carer) was helping me with paperwork, proof of ID, etc & the man serving us made jokes about me “being a mummy’s girl & child” when i got back in my wheelchair he said in a baby voice “are you spoon fed too?” #AbledsAreWeird
— Montana (@Montanalsabella) March 16, 2019
@Imani_Barbarin Once I was at the grocery store with my service dog, buying frozen broccoli, and a woman came up to me and asked if I needed help “Finding my adult…” because clearly disabled people can’t select vegetables on our own? She also called me brave. #AbledsAreWeird
— Annesley Clark (@AnnesleyClark) March 16, 2019
According to the Center for Disability Rights, “ableism” is defined as is “a set of beliefs or practices that devalue and discriminate against people with physical, intellectual, or psychiatric disabilities and often rests on the assumption that disabled people need to be ‘fixed’ in one form or the other.”
Ableism is intertwined in our culture, due to many limiting beliefs about what disability does or does not mean, how able-bodied people learn to treat people with disabilities and how we are often not included at the table for key decisions. Ableism often begins with good intentions but can have dangerous and hurtful consequences.
That one time someone asked me if I could just move out of my chair bcs the chair was taking up a lot of room. I was pissed and responded with, “I’m not in this wheelchair bcs it’s fun.” And she literally responded, “Ok. Why ARE you in the wheelchair then?”#AbledsAreWeird pic.twitter.com/bSMAY45I0H
— Marybeth (@poeticdiction) March 16, 2019
One time at Moe’s, when the restaurant was completely empty except for my table, a worker came up and, without interruption or eye contact, took my walker and rolled it behind a door. #AbledsAreWeird
— Cassie Strickland (@cpwithcp) March 15, 2019
Or called people with disabilities an “inspiration.”
— Debra Bamidele (@Debrabamidele) March 16, 2019
Then there were the incidences when able-bodied people didn’t understand that not all disabilities can be seen. “All those times that people try to guilt trip me into giving up my seat in the bus/metro because ‘i don’t look disabled’ while i literally cant stand for more than 7 minutes because my legs will give out on me,” Twitter user @jjklovebots wrote. “
all those times that people try to guilt trip me into giving up my seat in the bus/metro because “i don’t look disabled” while i literally cant stand for more than 7 minutes because my legs will give out on me#AbledsAreWeird
— rose (@jjklovebots) March 16, 2019
I used to have to use the handicapped spots and would always get dirty looks before my mom took out my wheelchair for me to sit. Like yes, I looked very healthy while I walked to it but I was struggling not to collapse.
— Mia Sage (@DivergentMare) March 16, 2019
I also knew a girl who was yelled at my some lady for taking a handicapped spot while being perfectly healthy who then pulled up her shirt to show a tube sticking out of her stomach which promptly shut her up.
— Mia Sage (@DivergentMare) March 16, 2019
Or thought that someone was “too pretty” to need a face mask to breathe outside.
Apparently I’m “too pretty” to wear the mask that allows me to breathe outside without going into anaphylactoid reactions #AbledsAreWeird
— Max Fisher (@OuchMouse8) March 16, 2019
And then there’s just the complete, complete lack of common sense.
Living in New England, it’s fun how every time it snows the handicapped spots are where they conveniently pile all the snow. Because apparently ableds think people with assistive mobility needs have no problem scaling ten foot snow banks. #AbledsAreWeird
— April Resists (@AprilDelRario) March 16, 2019
There’s also the people who don’t quite understand that disabilities just magically go away.
When you meet someone you haven’t seen for five years and they say “you’re still on crutches when are you going to be better?” a spinal injury is for life not just for Christmas #AbledsAreWeird
— CathybAFC (@Catblack04) March 16, 2019
When my grandma calls me and asks me if im better yet and when i say no she says “well this is taking forever, why are you still sick?! Im ready for you to just be better”
Idk? Maybe its my chronic illness?
— ? ¿ ? ¿ ? (@napqueen__) March 16, 2019
Twitter user @twitchyspoonie summed up all these awful, baffling stories by explaining that this is indeed a universal experience. “I feel like you can never fully guess how ridiculous people are unless you’re disabled, especially if your disability is visible. Like, I don’t know any disabled person without a crapload of stories of people behaving absurdly.”
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