Answering Question About Your Disability

Dealing With Nosey People

When you use a wheelchair, people like to stare. They also like to ask what’s wrong. People are nosey and hey, it can hurt our feelings. When a stranger asks why you can’t walk, how do you feel…inside? Mad, embarrassed, or annoyed? What do you say? My mom told me growing up to be nice to everyone, so when people ask what’s wrong with me, I’ll tell them my legs don’t work because I hurt my neck. What do you like to say?

When you’re at the mall and a stranger asks, “Hey, what happened to you?” it can ruin your day (especially if you’re trying to buy a shirt or just eat some pizza). But don’t get mad. Humans love to ask questions. It’ll always be this way. You should always have an answer ready, but I know, explaining your disability is hard. Here are my favorite ways to answer this crazy question.

Answering Question About Your Disability God made me this way: Remember, you don’t have to tell strangers everything just because they ask. You should be treated as politely as anyone else. Say, “God made you this way,” and that’s it. Smile at them too, just so they know you’re not too mad.

Teach them: You can teach others about disabilities whenever they get nosey. A lot of people don’t know what Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, Muscular Dystrophy and a lot of other disabilities are. I’ll describe my hurt spinal cord as if it’s a broken power line that’s been torn down by a tornado when people ask. People really like that. The more people we can teach about our disabilities, the more they’ll accept us.

Create a comeback: Sometimes strangers can be rude when they ask their questions. When this happens, it’s ok to say something snappy back. I know some adults say you should never be rude, but having a disability makes us have tough skin. Create a funny comeback when nosey people get in your face. Try saying, “I’m just lazy” the next time someone asks what’s wrong. I also like, “Something is wrong with me? Oh cool!”

Remember, don’t let the nosey people of the world get under your skin. Learning how to be ok with nosey people is important when you become an adult. Even try practicing your answers in private to see what sounds best, and you’ll be ready for ANY question that comes your way.

How do you answer disability questions?

Photo courtesy of Ian Stannard

2 replies
  1. So. Cal. Gal
    So. Cal. Gal says:

    When someone asks what’s “wrong” with me, I reply, ‘”Nothing”. Some get the hint to ask in a nicer way, some just look confused. I don’t feel the need to be nice because they were rude to me. I would never ask an overweight person “Why are you so fat?” I deserve the same consideration.

  2. Maria Lovell
    Maria Lovell says:

    …I answer their question with as many latin, medical words (as many syllables as possible) as I can… To intentionally confuse them… Then I ask them one back… Relevant to MY perception of THEIR health issues… Why are you bald/fat/so pale.. etc. Puts the boot on the other foot.

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