Many of us have someone in our lives that we are close to who identifies as disabled. For some of us it's our family, and when growing up with them it's easy to know what they appreciate and when they need help. However, other times it's not so simple. It can be really difficult to know at times how we can best support our friends with disabilities, and make sure we're lifting them up and doing whatever they need. So, here are 5 ways you can make sure those around you with disabilities feel supported.
DISCLAIMER: These are not meant to be a one-size-fits-all situation. Every single person is different, and not every disabled person wants the same things from their friends. They each have individual needs and wants, and we don't mean to say these tips work for everyone! You should always ask your friends how they feel and what they need, rather than just taking our word for it.
1. Don't be afraid to risk embarrassment
Often times when we discuss disability, we act as if we're walking on eggshells. It can be difficult and maybe even uncomfortable to ask if our disabled friends need help, but it's better to risk being embarrassed by saying the wrong thing, than to not say anything at all. It's important to remind your friends that you care about them and want them to feel loved, and even if that takes a little bit of discomfort on your end, it's okay! It's all part of the process, and it's much better than saying nothing. That small moment of discomfort is probably going to result in a much better and healthy relationship for both of you.
2. Echo their positivity, but don't force it
Living with a disability comes with a lot of ups and downs. Sometimes our disabled friends are having the best day ever and they're feeling amazing, and that's awesome! You can support them in that and be happy for them. You don't have to feel guilty for celebrating those wins with them, and they want to know that they can share their good days with someone. However, don't force positivity all the time. Disability comes with highs, and it also comes with pretty extreme lows, and sometimes they don't want you to try to put a positive on the situation. Sometimes life just sucks, and it's okay to feel that sometimes.
3. Don't Assume What Your Friend Can/Can't Do
It's not a secret that disabilities come with limitations. However, don't assume that just because you think your friend can't do something means they definitely can't. It never feels good to hear that someone else thinks you're incapable of something, and you never know what someone's capabilities are. It also goes the other way, never assume that your friend can do something. You never want to put your friend in a situation where they have to advocate for themselves and feel uncomfortable or left out. It can be as simple as checking if a restaurant you're going to is accessible or finding accessible transportation, but it means a lot and it can prevent a really difficult situation for them.
4. Small Gestures Can Mean A lot
You don't need to move mountains in order to support your friend, sometimes it's super simple things that can really make their day. For example, asking them if they need you to come over and just do a few little things around the house like taking out the trash or bringing in the mail can really relieve some stress from them. And if you're not sure what small gestures you can do- just ask! As we said earlier, I'm sure your friend will be happy that you reached out, and it's okay if it feels uncomfortable!
5. Ask How You Can Help
Whatever you do, just don't be afraid to reach out. Sometimes it's really difficult to ask for help, and just the act of asking your friend what they need can be enough.
If you're looking for more support, make sure to check out our disabled community forum! You can find support from other women with disabilities and lots of awesome resources and information.
This article is one of many we have on the Liberare.co blog. To read more stories from disabled women click here, to shop our newest adaptive lingerie click here, and to join our amazing community of empowered disabled women click here!
Cover Illustration done by Alyssa Silva, CCO of Liberare