Many #Wheelchair users can walk & that doesn’t mean they’re ‘faking’, ‘not disabled’, or are not ‘in need’ of wheelchair.
People who use wheelchairs but can also walk are called #AmbulatoryWheelChairUsers
I am #ActuallyAutistic & #Chronicallyill #DisabledAndProud & I’m one of them!
I am a regular swimmer too; most days youll see me at the beach or a swimming pool - I, a ambultory wheelchair user m actually very good at swimming - I used to compete. So people see me being wheeled along in my wheelchair, they see me struggle to stnd up and get out, and they see me glide through the water with ease, and it baffles them - where did my disability vanish to? was I ever really disabled? yes, of course I was, the difference is that water makes you weightless, and most people are more capable in the water and feel less pain and less restrictions on their movements, and disabled people are no different.
Floating takes the weight off my joints, and as I have unstable weak joints, this is a major issue for my mobility on dry land, but naturally this is removed somewhat in water. either way, swimming does not make me less disabled or faking, because it just changes the aspects of my disabilit️y and its impacts compared to being on land.
Lets face it, we are not really that used to seeing a wheelchair user doing lengths in the local pool or swimming through waves, pier to pier. The truth is also that I will be wiped out for days after that unable to move with jelly legs. the other reality is that my capability to swim is not regular like abled bodied people - I cannot just wake up and choose to go for a swim and know my body will do it. I plan for it. No showering, no chores, no work, just to be capable enough to swim - and that's if I don't have shutdowns or agonising pain where I cannot move even if I wanted to in water. Motivation to move and be less restricted by my disability and mobility issues is not the same as actully controlling it.
My disability is still there, even in water!
Yet, when someone sees a person who was in a wheelchair, who is now walking, or swimming, they may be labelled a faker; this is untrue & unfair. I’ve been harassed from strangers because I’m ‘not really #Disabled’ -as if strangers could ever see the hidden plights of others? .
Perhaps they’ve seen me in my #WheelChairLife & then out it- perhaps in a shop & I get out of the wheelchair to reach for something (with difficulty!). or I transfer from wheelchair to a car, or heaven forbid I use an accessible toilet or car parking space with my blue badge when I need it.
We need to redefine our perceptions of #Disability. For many with #Invisibleillnesses & #InvisibleDisability #HiddenDisability #Autism there’s often so much more to it, than ‘not being able to walk’ - but that doesn’t mean it’s not a disability. .
They’re many contributing factors to ‘I can’t safely walk right now’ and there are a variety of reasons for why we will use a wheelchair; For me,
* I use it for 8+ pain levels (my pains never lower than a 6 which is a rare, very good day). Basically, me feeling like I have a flu virus, which usually knocks most people out for a few days, is me at my best and most capable! * severe exhaustion (I'm talking to the level of severe somnolence where you fall asleep every-time you blink. its like the chronic state of *just* being on the verge of deep sleep, but being forced to stay awake!)
* severe muscle, joint & bone weakness and instability
* to prevent me from collapsing * prevent me from being other wise bed bound.
* using wheelchair also enables me to commit to self care (showering, basic chores, dressing & feeding myself etc) & activities on future days.
️ * When I can’t safely make connections to cross road or navigate busy streets or people or shops (I ram into people, break things or faint and have seizures and become bed bound if I were to walk (or stumble and fall!) - so the extra accessibility is found in the simply art of someone navigating these things, for me so my brain doesn't have to overwork itself just to access basic rights. less navigation = less seizures and fainting spells, shutdown and less pain.
On these days, a wheelchair is a saving grace that empowers me today & tomorrow.
️ Reminder #Wheelchair users who can walk are NOT ‘faking’ or undeserving of aid because they’re not in need-we are but it's hidden. Please remember that ambulatory users exist, & do not judge people based on their sometimes needing a mobility device & sometimes not. Chronic health conditions are complex & a person’s needs can change from day to day-Or even hour to hour.
Chronic health conditions are complex & a person’s needs can change from day to day-Or even hour to hour. We need to redefine our perceptions of #Disability. For many with #Invisibleillnesses & #InvisibleDisability #HiddenDisability #Autism there’s often so much more to it, than ‘not being able to walk’ - but that doesn’t mean it’s not a disability.
Let’s all challenge our perceptions on our developing learning journey to empowering others
x <3 x