Getting Family and Friends to Understand You're Disabled

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Getting friends and family to understand you're disabled

very body is slightly different and will react to medications in different ways. What works for one person might be a horror show filled with unwanted side effects for someone else and there is no way of knowing until you try the medication

The problem we have is that most people’s understanding of disability starts and ends with wheelchairs and the idea that this is incredibly tragic. Because your family and friends love you, it means they fight extra hard to protect you from what they believe is a tragedy. But, as many of us in the disabled community know (or I hope we are learning), disability isn’t the suck fest that everyone makes it out to be.

Yes, there are bad days and things we wish didn’t exist *cough cough ableism cough* but being disabled isn’t something to be ashamed of. For many in our community, identifying as disabled enables us access to the services and support we vitally need.

The text reads. 'so you've battled your internalised ableism and started to accept that yes, actually you are disabled and that;s ok but now how do you tell the people in your life when their reaction is things like...' below are three speechbubbles that say 'but you aren't like properly disabled', 'i don't think you should be calling yourself disabled' and 'you aren't disabled!'

So, how do we get them to understand?

A purple banner with pink text that says 'bring back the joy' underneath is a pink shop now button. To the right hand side there is a pair of space compression socks and in a circle around them the text says 'compression socks do't have to be boring'

I mean first off just casually sharing this blog with friends and family can spread awareness. Introducing them to disabled people who are happily living their life is always a good way to get them to change their perception of disability.

Otherwise, you want to start with the basics. Show them the official explanation for what counts as a disability and explain that there are as many different ways to be disabled as there are disabled people. Reassuring your loved ones that visible and non-visible disabilities are just as valid as each other is another good step (it also explains why they shouldn’t shout abuse if they see someone walk away from a disabled parking spot because they automatically assume their Blue Badge is a fake – they’re not just for wheelchair users!).

Next up, try to explain to family and friends how saying you’re disabled might personally help you. For instance, being able to get support in uni or having access to benefits. Taking ownership of your disability can also make you feel more confident saying “no” to social events etc, because sometimes it’s just as important to have access to an event as it is knowing when to turn down an invitation, and being able to say “Thanks for the invite, but my disability means I’d be too tired for that event” can be quite freeing.

Ultimately, just be patient with them. You are tackling years of them being told that disability is wrong or bad, they might not get it from just one conversation.

You can also showcase the amazing range of mobility aids currently available, and how they actually give you the capacity to thrive and engage more in activities (which can only be good for them too).

Ultimately, just be patient with them. You are tackling years of them being told that disability is wrong or bad, they might not get it from just one conversation. In fact, it might be an ongoing thing you have to explain more than once.

And remember, just because the people around you don’t get it, it doesn’t mean you can’t call yourself disabled. You can always find support from the wider disabled community too, you’re not alone.