10 Tips for the Newly Disabled
By Yvonne B. Garris
Becoming disabled can be very challenging. I know from personal experience since I lost most of my sight back in 2004. My intention with writing this report is to give you a starting point and some helpful information. These are some things I wish I would have known back in 2004.
Before I get to the tips I would like to take a moment and talk about what disability is according to dictionary.com.
1. The condition of being unable to perform a task or function because of a physical or mental impairment
2. Something that disables; handicap
3. Lack of necessary intelligence, strength, etc.
4. An incapacity in the eyes of the law to enter into certain transactions
With this kind of definition it is no wonder people do not like being called disabled. But I am writing this for people that fall into the first definition, which I include myself. The following is the way I would define disability:
D – Determined – many people that are newly disabled are determined not to let their new disability stop them.
I – Independent – There is no reason for you to give up your independence just because you may now be disabled.
S – Successful – there are many disabled people that are successful at what they set their minds to accomplish.
A – Abilities – you still have many abilities you can use to their fullest.
B -Believe – Believe in yourself because you can do it!
I – Intelligence – You are still the intelligent person you have always been.
L -Laugh and Love – Remember to laugh because there will be things that will happen that will be funny so just remember to laugh at yourself and always remember to love yourself.
I – Identity – You are still you, your identity has not changed, just maybe your outer appearance.
T – Tenacity- Have the tenacity to keep moving forward and do not give up.
Y – You can do it and never forget to look inside yourself to remember who you really are.
Now that we have determined what disability is, and what I think it stands for here are some tips for making your life a little easier.
1. Remember that you are still you! Just because you may be considered disabled, it does not mean that you are not the same person inside. Yes, some things may have changed, but if you were afraid of balloons before you can still be afraid of balloons. If you like to watch sappy movies, you still can, even if you may not be able to see what is going on. You will find that some people will now treat you differently, and that is generally because they are afraid to say something wrong or possibly fear of now needing to take care of you. Remember to talk to your family and friends and let them know that you are still the same person they know and love and you will let them know if you need something or if they may happen to say something wrong inadvertently.
2. Mobility – whether you are now blind or are in a wheelchair having good mobility skills is a must! This will help you maintain much more of your independence. Get as much training as you need to travel safely. Please make sure you use the aids you need to get around safely! I know many people that are losing their sight do not want to use a white cane, because of the stigma attached. But please use your cane for your safety!! Remember you being safe is more important than how you look with a white cane or a wheelchair! Also people that are new to wheelchairs, know where the locate bathrooms. Remember it will now take you longer to get to the bathroom so plan ahead.
3. Patience – This actually could take up more than one tip since you will need to learn how to be patient with yourself and others as you all adjust to your new disability. You need to be patient with yourself since things will take you much longer to do than they did before. There will also be some things that you will learn how to do in a completely different way. Be patient with those around you since there will be many times they will not know how to treat you. When this happens you will have to tell them, maybe more than once what you need or how to do something.
You will also need to learn how to be patient when you need to get somewhere. This one still drives me crazy at times. Now instead of jumping in your car, you will have to schedule and work around other people’s schedules. This is another good reason to have good mobility skills. Still always have a book, music or something to do with you since more than likely you will have to wait somewhere.
4. Flexible – Be prepared to be flexible with your schedule since more than likely you will need to start to rely on others for getting places, at least for a little while. Learn to ask them first what their schedules are and when they may be willing and able to take you.
5. Scheduling – Allow twice as much time as you think. This is one of the most important points (in my opinion). Nothing will ever be as fast or easy as you think it will be so be prepared for it to take about twice as long, maybe even longer when you are first starting out.
6. Speak Up and Ask – Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This was a big one for me since I always think I can do things myself. After ten years I am getting better, but I still have a hard time asking for help at times. There was a time when I was sighted that I never asked for help and now there are times I feel like I ask for help all the time which frustrates me greatly when it is something I know I could have done before. But sometimes you just have to face the fact you now need help and that is not a sign of weakness. I think it is actually a sign of strength since you actually know your limitations. People will not know what you want or how you feel unless you speak up and tell them.
7. Advocate for yourself – When I first became disabled I did not even know what this one was, so I think it is important to include it. Advocating means to ask for things that you now need. An example of this was I went to college after losing my sight and I asked my professors to email me the handouts and syllabi since I cannot read things on paper. If you are in a wheelchair it might mean you need to ask for a table that your chair can fit under. This can also be advocating for wheelchair cut outs for sidewalks or audible pedestrian signals.
8. Network – Finding groups and support groups of people with the same disability can be very helpful with finding resources in your local area and for support. (See list of some groups at the end of this report)
9. Get Organized – Make sure you get organized and know where your things are and then tell the people you live with not to move anything. Being organized is always a good idea, but when you are disabled it is an essential skill. This will make your life much easier. Explain to them why it is important to put things back to where they belong. Also be sure to explain the importance of closing cabinet doors and drawers as well as regular doors. Leaving these things open can pose a very big hazard for a person that is disabled to run into and become injured.
10. When pouring do it over the sink – When you are pouring a drink do it over the sink, it is much easier to clean up. If you are now visually impaired, put your finger in the cup so you know how far you are filling the cup. Also whenever you are making something to eat if you can make it on a tray it is much easier to keep everything together and the cleanup is much easier. It will also be much easier to carry into another room if you have it on a tray.
I hope this report has helped you with some tools to start to live your new life as a person that is now disabled. As I said earlier, these are just a few tips that I wish I would have known in the beginning and is not a full list by any means if you would like more help navigating this changing and evolving time in your life please contact me at email@example.com and we can talk about working together. I have been where you are now and that is why I wrote this report and why I started Fresh Outlook Coach because I want to help you to figure out what you want your new life to look like. It took me 10 years, and I do not want you to wait that long! So please go to http://www.freshoutlookcoach.com and sign up for my newsletter, and fill out the form so we can talk and maybe work together. I am going to end with one of my favorite quotes it is from Joseph Campbell.
“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
Disability Information and Resources
National Council on Disability
National Organization on Disability
AAPD – Amberican Association of People with Disabilities
ACB – American Council of the Blind
AFB – American Foundation of the Blind
NFB – National Federation for the Blind
Wheelchair Support Group – How I Roll
National Spinal Cord Injury Associan
Daily Strength Groups – Wheelchair Special People Group http://www.dailystrength.org/groups/wheelchairspecialneedsgroup
National MS Society
MSAA – MS Association of America
Yvonne Garris lost most of her sight ten years ago due to illness. After going to college and receiving a bachelor’s degree in social work and is currently working on her life coaching certification. She discovered a need to help newly disabled people create their new life. So she started Fresh Outlook Coach and helps the now disabled create their new life to see all their possibilities. For more information please visit: http://www.freshoutlookcoach.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
©Yvonne Garris 2014 all rights reserved
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The information presented herein represents the view of the author as of the date of publication. Because of the rate with which conditions change, the author reserves the right to alter and update his opinion based on the new conditions. The report is for informational purposes only. While every attempt has been made to verify the information provided in this report, neither the author nor his affiliates/partners assume any responsibility for errors, inaccuracies or omissions. Any slights of people or organizations are unintentional. If advice concerning legal or related matters is needed, the services of a fully qualified professional should be sought. This report is not intended for use as a source of legal or accounting advice. You should be aware of any laws which govern business transactions or other business practices in your country and state. Any reference to any person or business whether living or dead is purely coincidental.