How do we deal with differently abled individuals?

05 Jul

What is the most ideal way to present  oneself in front of an individual who is differently abled i.e. without coming off as insensitive or too sympathetic either? In the course of our talks, is it okay , if we want to know about their condition or will they take it to be rude and insensitive ?

Responses 5

  • Rimi Sharma
    Rimi Sharma   Jul 24, 2017 09:41 PM

    It is nothing uncommon to worry about a matter so sensitive.

    If you approach someone who is differently abled, or they approach you, you need to treat them the way YOU want to be treated. Ask yourself questions. Like, would you like it if someone paid more attention to a particular feature of yours, rather than paying attention to your personality? Would you like to be treated like a child? Is it enjoyable to you when people use child-talk when talking to you? If the answer to all these questions is “No”, then refrain from doing these when talking to differently abled individuals.

    Be kind, but don't mistake it for the individual’s inability to do things by themselves. Be kind to them, as you would be to other people around you. If you want to help someone out, ask if they really need any help. Don’t force yourself on them in order to help them out. It may make them feel low about themselves.

    If you think that you have formed a bond with the person, it is okay to slowly move into the direction of asking questions. If you feel like they are hesitating, then don’t ask any more questions, until unless they want to talk about it. Again, treat others the way you would want to be treated.

  • Manaswini Venkateswaran
    Manaswini Venkateswaran   Jul 07, 2017 03:47 PM

    The best thing to do is to treat them like you would treat a person who wasn't differently abled. Listen to them, acknowledge their opinions, be as friendly as you would with anyone else.

    For the most part, let them attempt tasks on their own and if they need help, let them come to you first. Or if you find them struggling with something, ask if they would like to be helped before going ahead and assisting them. 

    As for talking about their condition, you shouldn't bring it up unless:
    1) They bring it up first
    2) You are a person who is licensed to help them, such as a doctor or therapist
    3) They are a close friend or family and you want to know how they're doing or if there's any way in which you could help

    Try to stifle curiosity, for the most part. Don't pester them unless you actually intend to use that information to do something for them. 

    There isn't really a "way" to interact with differently-abled individuals. This is all just common decency with a regard for people's needs, feelings and respecting their consent or nonconsent. It may be difficult to treat them the same way when society and the media portray them as so different but we have to at least try. 

  • Aishwarya K
    Aishwarya K   Jul 07, 2017 03:11 AM

    Well, first of all, when we interact with these individuals we need to see them for who they are as individuals and not identify them with their dissabilities. Once we are able to do that, only then can we move forward with the interaction. Instead of higlighting their differences we must treat them as we would treat any other person. It is important that we treat them with respect and that we don't try to treat them like children.

    Also, I believe it is okay to ask them about their dissability after getting into conversation. However, the intentions shouldn't simply be curiosity, but to understand them better as people. 

    I think a few other important things to remember with differently abled individuals is that they don't want to feel helpless and they don't want to feel as if they can't do something on their own. So whatever we do for them, it shouldn't come across as a favor. It should come out of compassion not out of pity. 

    SAKSHI BAJAJ   Jul 06, 2017 05:29 PM


    I understand your concern in this matter. Since the topic is so sensitive we don't mean to come off as rude or sound like we are making fun of their disability. It is important we give  a lot of thought about how to conduct ourselves in this case. Not many people are aware or sensitive enough to such situations and stare blatantly at such individuals. That is certainly not the ideal way. It is downright offensive. In my expereience, the one thing that really upsets differently-abled people is when others view them as an object of pity. They already see themselves as different and have a lot of inssecurities. The last thing they want is you to treat them like a subject of your sympathy. What helps is being absolutely normal in front of them. Don't treat them differently and ask them regular questions instead of making them uncomfortable about disability. You have to bulid a rapport in such cases. Don't jump right ahead and ask them such stuff, just to fulfil your curiosity. and if you sense that the other person is showing discomfort and is not wanting to answer or entertain your questions, quit right there. it is not their job to keep you informed. and even if they behave rudely with you, understand that it is stemming from a lot of frustation and it is justified. We can't possibly understand their plight. Try and make them feel as normal as possible. Think before you hshoot anything and frame your questions wisely. Make sure your ignorance or lack of knowledge doesn't hurt them. Life has thrown enough curve balls in their direction and the last thing they need is this. However, for someone like you, who is sensible enough to tackle such situations, i would say just behave as you would with any of your friends. Don't do anything that reminds them of their inability. They are already aware of that. Try having a good time with them. Make them feel normal. That's the best you could do. Take care.

  • Nihalika Verma
    Nihalika Verma   Jul 06, 2017 02:50 PM

    Hi Apoorva,

    Any individual does not need to present self in any unique way. Be what you are and as you are. Just be sensitive to their needs, depends on the disability of the individual. You should extend an arm of help to them, IF AND ONLY IF they allow you. Before extending help, ask them if they are comfortable with your help, if they want you to help them.

    That is why I mentioned the kind of disability is important. If a person say, has a disability of limbs, then he/she may or may not require help. But, in case of blindness, they may welcome your help.

    Hence, just be what you are. Do respect them as individuals, value their opinion, extend help, and make them enjoy your presence. 

    Behave normal and behave happy :)

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