Living with mobility asessability challenges

This happened to me Wednesday this week. I wanted to share, as I know situations like these happen to many of us on a regular basis.

Latest public experience, I was being pushed in manual chair to appt on wednesday. Entering waiting room a Lady said, "I ENVY YOU". I asked her why? She said, "because you get to be pushed around". REALLY? Are ppl totally oblivious?

I do not feel priveledged to be pushed around. I do not understand ignorance. I would like everyone to actively participate in advocacy and Ataxia awareness.

I get annoyed when people think its a toy and ask if they can have a go!..

My latest public experience was whilst out shopping yesterday.

In a local supermarket where I like to shop as it is quite well laid out with wide aisles that are great for mobility scooter and the staff are always very helpful, I started my usual 'tour' from the main shop entrance in my usual way - that is, before continuing, I turn my scooter from 8mph mode to 4mph mode and dial the speed down to less than half. I then moved on to my usual starting place - the magazine aisle.

All was well during the first part of the tour, I had help from staff and other customers where generally - as I am - polite, helpful, courteous and understanding.

About half way round the shop, I was barely moving as a small group of people where blocking the aisle I was about to turn in to - this was no problem though. Suddenly a small child ran out from the group across my path so to say and onward. As the child passed some two to three feet in front of me, I released the tiller control of my scooter and the scooter stopped immediately. I was not at all phased by what happened and just continued about my business as an adult from the group 'caught' and returned the child. THIS is where the fun began!

The man returning with the child lurched over me (I had stopped to look at something) and bellowed "You should not be allowed in here with that thing!" and motioned towards my scooter whilst, again bellowing, accused me of being "(Profanity) Dangerous."

Now, normally, I would of just moved on and left the guy to his utterance. In this instance though, I was fuming at the way the guy was acting. My calm and surprisingly well spoken - without a slur or other complication - answer was "You may have a point. At least I'm in control of my scooter which is much more than can be said about you in regard to your child."

As I drove off, I could here the guy shouting something on the lines of "Who the heck are you to tell me how to look after my child?" and the much gentler but razor sharp dirk of a young woman in the group replying to the man on the lines of "Well, dear, he is right! We should watch the bairn." and a short pause before - "You should go say sorry." (no apology ever came).

People, regardless of physical ability, can be rude, arrogant, uncaring, intolerant, ignorant, unsympathetic or just plainly stupid. Thankfully those people seem to be in the minority and many more folk are courteous, humble, kind, tolerant, polite, compassionate and sensible.

It can be difficult on us when such blatant lack of understanding occurs - especially when such borders on hatred and discrimination!

In such situations, I try to remain calm and move away from the problem if possible. In replying as I did last night, I was in the wrong as it could have made an annoyingly 'bad' situation much, much worse. That said, ataxia is a little known and much less accepted condition (no matter of ataxia type) and sadly, as with a lot of other disabilities, a portion of the public so to say is sadly intolerant of what they do not understand.

Try not to be too upset when such things happen as this will only likely make you feel bad mentally and or physically in the end. I appreciate how difficult it can be to keep your spirits up due to the negativity or even well intentioned but misguided positivity of others - but do not let it get you down!

Kindest regards,


Oh wow...I think that some people can be so insensitive without even realizing their ignorance. If only they could walk (or ride) in our shoes for a few days, maybe they would realize how lucky they are not to have to walk without some sort of assistance.

While it is nowhere near as bad as Michael's situation, I really can relate the the OP. It was raining outside and I was sitting in my wheelchair under the awning,waiting for a class to start while employees were helping people inside with umbrellas so they wouldn't get drenched. One of the employees says to me that she wishes she could just sit and smoke while someone else brings people in! (This is before I quit and in her defense she did say it with a smile on her face.) However I became rather enraged by this. I felt the same way the OP did. If I could get out of this chair, I would be happy to have a few raindrops slide down my back. I cant help people do much now and holding an umbrella for them is pretty trivial. I would have gladly traded places with her but it doesnt work that way. Instead of complaing, do your job and hold the umbrella. It totally felt like she was rubbing it in my face!

My walking isn't bad enough to need to use a cane or other assistive device (yet) - but even still, I've noticed people giving me a second look or wide berth when I stumble a bit or need to hold on to something or someone (usually my wife). When I was a teenager, I may have been guilty of doing that myself. Now that I'm the one who "walks funny", I have a totally different view of those who are worse off than I am!