Home > Monday Minute > “Monday” Minute: Lesson(s) In Disability Etiquette

“Monday” Minute: Lesson(s) In Disability Etiquette

I started this on Monday – does that count?

We were two blocks from home when a child being pushed in a wheelchair approached us. He was obviously significantly disabled, and was making continuous loud noises as he passed. I cringed as I watched James stop dead in his tracks and do a full 180 to keep his eyes on him. And point.

“James,” I hissed. “Put that finger down. Now.

“But Mom,” James replied, finger still hovering. “That kid is making really funny noises.”

I pushed James’s arm back to his side. “One: it is rude to point, at anyone. Two: that child is disabled and can’t help making those noises. And three: It’s not nice to comment about other people, especially right in front of them.”

Margaret, who had been silent up until this point, chimed in “Yeah, just like your noises, James!”

I inwardly groaned. But James replied, “Oh yeah, like all of my noises. Right, mom?”

Hmm, perhaps this would be a teaching moment, I thought. “Yes, James, kind of like your noises. Remember sometimes you make lots of noises while we’re walking or at home and they don’t make any words (or sense) either?”

“Riiiiiight,” James said, as if I was making all the sense in the world. “Does that boy get in trouble?”

I paused. “What do you mean?”

“For making noises like that? Like when you and dad tell me to stop making noises and if I don’t you get mad at me?”

Ouch. “Well, James, that boy might not be able to help the noises he makes, but we want you to do your best to listen to us when we ask you to stop doing something,” I finished lamely. And it’s annoying and embarrassing and we’re being impatient and short-tempered whether or not you can help it, I want to add, but I don’t want to give him too much to think about at once.

James will probably not point at another kid in a wheelchair. I hope I can learn my lesson half as well.

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