Sometimes I wonder if our schools need a class to teach “appropriateness and etiquette.” A class to educate people on how to observe their surroundings and people, and think before they open their mouth to speak.
Not too long ago, a friend and I were shopping. She is visually impaired, and has to use a device or place objects close to her eyes to inspect them. As we were in line paying for our purchase, the cashier sarcastically commented, while laughing, “You can’t see or something. You have the phone close to your face.” My friend and I were offended and very upset.
Over the years, I have had the same experience with people, when out with my son. They ask me in a not-so-friendly tone and distain on their face, “What’s wrong with him?” They ask this question as they observe Nate walking, flapping, or having one of his self-stimming moments. I either say, “there is nothing wrong with my son,” with an attitude (because I’m upset). Or if I have time, I will educate them on his diagnosis, as I share with them that they should never ask that question, “What is wrong with” a person.
I often think to myself that by now, in our current year, in our world and society, where there are millions of individuals with disabilities, people have become aware of them. Maybe it is not a particular look, but people should be able to determine by certain actions that people navigate life differently. However, I am wrong, there are people who are not aware, they still don’t know what is correct or incorrect to say.
So, my suggestion is to make an observation. Look, but don’t stare. If you can’t determine the situation or you can’t ask appropriately, don’t say anything at all.
It is better not to say anything, then to say something rudely, offending a person with a disability.