Things to Say Instead of Staring
I'm not so scary.
First of all, as a general rule for anyone, DON'T STARE. But PLEASE, whatever you do, DON"T STARE AT PEOPLE IN WHEELCHAIRS. I personally hate it when people STARE at me. When people STARE at me it makes me feel like I am different when I am really not so different than you.
I understand if you STARE because you like my gorgeous shoes or my cute outfit or my sparkly wheels. Just PLEASE don't STARE without saying something. I know my mother always taught us that staring is rude.
I think you'll find talking to people easier, gentler and kinder than staring. Besides, you won't catch dirty looks from my protective brother if you say "hello," instead of giving a STARE. One time, we were at a zoo and a boy about my brother's age stopped dead in his tracks and STARED straight at me. His mother didn't know what to do, so she started walking away. My brother, though, knew just what to do. He stopped, faced the boy, and STARED directly into his eyes until the boy turned and went back to his mother. Yes, my mother intervened and reminded Ethan that staring is not okay. But I think he gave the boy a silent piece of good advise.
So, what can you say to a person who uses a wheelchair?
1.) HELLO. You got it: "hello" or "good morning" are common greetings that strangers say in passing. Those are way nicer than scrunching your nose at me in confusion.
2) COOL WHEELS! Just like I might compliment you on your shoes, feel free to compliment my wheels or how I fast I go. That is way nicer than STARING.
3) ASK A QUESTION. If you are wondering, you can even ask why I have a wheelchair. Once in a while this happens but it is usually a very young child that is either brave enough or innocent enough to ask. I don't mind answering innocent questions. It's kind of like me asking a little girl, "Is Rapunzel your favorite princess," just because she is wearing a Rapunzel shirt. The one main question I always get is "Did you break your legs?" That's just ridiculous but I understand your confusion. Ask me anything but that.
Staring doesn't completely bother me. I can keep going throughout my day without feeling annoyed because I am used to it. There are lots of reasons people might use wheelchairs. Don't bother trying to figure out that reason... there are just too many. Instead, just know that I am a fellow human being. I don't like being invisible and I don't like feeling that I stick out like a sore thumb. I do like when you notice me in a kind way. Get to know me and we will have lots to talk about.