5 Ways To Support A Friend With a Disability
We might be progressing as a society, but we still have a long way to go. We’re still fighting for the rights of others as well as our own, which means that we are behind. If we still have to fight for others to be seen as equals in 2021, we’re not doing enough. If you have a friend who has a disability – mental, physical, visible or not – you have to be an advocate for them, and that means standing up and speaking for their rights as much as possible.
One in four Americans has a disability that they live with, which means that we all need to work to be supportive, inclusive and more to ensure that everyone feels equal. There may be different disability definitions out there, but when someone has been diagnosed with a disability, they need support. With this in mind, here are so many ways that you can help and support a friend with a disability.
- Focus on them as a person. A body doesn’t define a person. You wouldn’t (well, we hope) treat someone differently for their gender or race, so treating someone differently because of a disability is not okay. Remember that you are dealing with a person here, which means making eye contact and talking to them and not their carer about them. If they are able to communicate with you, do so as you would anyone else.
- Always ask if you can help. It may feel the natural thing to do to reach out and help your friend with a disability, but that doesn’t mean that they want your help. It’s respectful to ask them first whether you can help them, and then offer a hand if they accept. Remember that a disability doesn’t remove the need for independence, and when you swoop in and assume, it’s irritating!
- Be an advocate. The best way to advocate for the rights of your friends is to educate other people about their needs in the right context. You have to be equipped to talk to others about limitations and discirimination, so you must first educate yourself. It’s not just about the things that they can and do struggle with, but the opportunities that are lacking for those with disabilities in the working world and beyond. Don’t be afraid to educate yourself by asking questions. The best way to advocate is to learn and teach others.
- Be involved. Be a voice for those who can’t speak, who can’t move, who need help and support to have the rest of the world treat them as an equal. You can get involved in charities, events, simply being a good human being and being inclusive of all no matter what.
A disability may be limiting in some ways, but you are still dealing with a person first and that’s the most important thing to remember here. People need others for comfort, support and love. Be that person that they need, and you will find that you are doing better for the world.