Let’s face it, society still has a long way to go when it comes to treating people with disabilities the same as they would an abled person. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t offer your help when you can clearly see that they need it, but don’t treat them like they can’t do anything for themselves, because honestly, some of them are more abled than able people.

#AbledsAreWeird

Twitter exploded with tweets from disabled people on Saturday after Imani Barbarin shared her story of how she was treated by an abled person, accompanied by the hashtag #AbledsAreWeird. Barbarin, who is a writer and advocate for the “representation, inclusion, and empowerment of disabled people” has cerebral palsy and has started many similar hashtags on Twitter before. In her tweet, she recalled the time when an abled person threw her crutch into the pool to “help her swim”.

Barbarin spoke to Romper about the hashtag, saying that when it comes to disabled people, abled people seem to lose all of their common sense, causing them to act in strange and sometimes dangerous ways. “This isn’t the behavior that they would [display] around other abled people, so why would they do it with us?” she added. We totally agree. Just as we shouldn’t treat someone differently based on their race or gender, we shouldn’t treat people any differently just because they have a disability.

Imani Barbarin is calling for change with the hashtag #AbledsAreWeird.
Image: Twitter (@Imani_Barbarin)

It seems that abled people really are weird

The tweet gained a lot of attention pretty fast and soon other people with disabilities shared similar stories of how abled people have made them felt like they weren’t capable of doing anything for or by themselves.

Some of the stories were a bit funny, while others were quite shocking.  Looking at some of the posts, it’s clear that a lot of people have a massive misperception of how disabled people operate on a daily basis. They are adults and don’t want any special treatment. One Twitter user shared a story of how a woman once climbed underneath a bathroom stall door to ask her if she needed any help.

Another user replied to the tweet, saying that her teacher used to send students to go check on her whenever she needed to use the bathroom. Really? Just take a moment to think about how embarrassing it would be for an abled person if someone did that. It’s no different for people with disabilities.

So far, we can totally back the idea that abled people can be quite weird – and the weirdness doesn’t stop at the bathroom, it goes on to the grocery store. Apparently, disabled people can’t pick out their own groceries and are extremely brave for trying to do it in the first place. If someone called you brave when you successfully picked out your favorite cheese, would it make you feel any good?

With the above being said, there is of course nothing wrong with feeling inspired when you see disabled people going about their daily life the way they do, but don’t say it to them like it’s some big compliment. It just makes them feel inferior.

Some people are still being disrespectful towards those with disabilities

Then there were those who had to deal with people who were downright insensitive and rude.

If you’re disabled and your mother happens to be your carer, that does not make you incompetent or a “mommy’s girl” and if someone has the audacity to say that to you, they’re the one who needs a bit of a good talking to from their mother.

Another user shared a similar story about how someone told them that they had to move out of their wheelchair because it was taking up too much space. Uhm… what? So apparently there are still some individuals out there who think that there are people making their way around in wheelchairs because they like wheeling around in a chair instead of walking.

You can’t park with us

The ridiculousness doesn’t stop there. Sometimes disabled people are even judged for using disabled parking.

People also seem to think that disabled people are so few that it’s not necessary to make sure that their allocated parking spots are always open and ready to use, just like normal parking spots.

Some think disabilities can be “cured”

Then there are the select few who still don’t seem to understand what a disability is and that it’s something you have to live with your entire life. If it was a temporary thing, we’d definitely have given it another name. Disabilities, just like your body type, is something you can’t ever change.

Society needs to take a class in disability 101

It’s kind of hard to believe that society is still so insensitive and seemingly misinformed about what disabilities are and how people with disabilities function in daily life. The truth is that most of them have adjusted so well that they don’t even need extra help. They can take care of themselves and their needs and just like any other abled person, they’ll ask if they need help with anything. Laila Alawa probably said it best in her tweet.

We can indeed do better. In fact, we should all take the time to educate ourselves on all the different disabilities out there and how people deal with them. Society clearly still doesn’t have the efficient knowledge to deal with people who are disabled. A lot of the time people feel uncomfortable because they don’t know much about a person’s disability and this leads to them saying or doing things that can be offensive. Being informed is the key to avoiding this. When in doubt, just treat that person as you would any abled person – they will appreciate that more than you trying to help them do simple things they can do themselves.

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