10 Things Not to Say to a Person in a Wheelchair


I’ll be gone for a while, because I’m working on another idea that will then be a post. Not like more than 3 of you care, but I’m going to try to keep my promise of doing updates fairly often. This has come to my mind after reading a post on The Huffington Post.

I am however going to put my own spin on it, as you may know I am a person who is a wheelchair, so I feel like I’m more than qualified to give my following experiences on the following. In the following article, I say ‘you’ a lot, I may not be addressing you, however the word you is a good way of keeping ones interest.

1.Slow down there. You might get a speeding ticket. 

I understand that you are telling me to slow down. Cops do not give you speeding tickets for running, do they? It’s exercise right? We can’t use our legs, and some of us can’t use our arms either, but to the ones of us in manual wheelchairs we see it as exercise too.

It is a rather annoying question, after being in a wheelchair for the past 27 years, on and off, I have a pretty good idea how to control my wheelchair, more than most people would assume. For some reason, some, able-bodied individuals assume those in a wheelchairs are mentally incompetent.

Our goal is not to hit you, and even if we do all you’re going to turn around and say “I’m sorry.” Remember this question is not original, we hear it more than you realize.

2. What happened to you?

While I do not mind asking this question, it is still a very rude question to ask. I’m sure we can find a problem with you and ask the same thing.

I don’t mind answering the question because it shows that someone is willing to get to know me, more often than not people who do get to know me tend to fall in love with the person I am.

However as you may have read in I Didn’t Eat My Vegetables As A Kid there are a handful of people who should not ask me this question. If you want to ask someone this question you should get to know that person first.

3. How fast does that thing go?

This happens to be a question heard by those in automatic wheelchairs, however I have heard it before, a few hundred times. We don’t keep a radar detector on us, and even if we did, I highly doubt it would even pick that up.

I assume it’s as fast as you can run, you don’t see us going around asking how fast you can run. I would just advise you don’t ask it because it shows us your ignorance.

4.  Do you know so and so in a wheelchair too?

Okay, I most likely do not. Just because people in wheelchairs happen to be a minority does not mean we all know one another. That’s like asking you if you know John Doe because he too is an atheist, or do you know Andy Smith, he also served in the military.

5. Is your significant other also in a wheelchair? 

Why would you even assume that only handicapped people can only love other handicapped people? My girlfriend is not in a wheelchair, nor was my kids mother, or my father.

Love does not have limits.

Speaking of love, if someone makes you happy, it’s not anyone’s place to tell you that you can’t be; religion or otherwise.

That is another ignorant question, if you want to be seen as a nice person you might want to rethink your line of questioning.

6. I’d rather die than be disabled.

If you even want to say that to me, or any other disabled person, regardless of the severity of said disability, just go stick your head up your ass and never come back.

Even if you really think like that, we don’t want to hear it; chances are we don’t even want to know you.

7. You’re good-looking for being in a wheelchair.

Well thank you, but who says that we can’t just be good-looking, do you really have to add the ‘for being in a wheelchair’ part.

We need to look good from time to time too, just like you. Other then it being a rude question anyways, it makes it sound as if you label us as less than human.

8. Good for you.

We had to adapt to living in a wheelchair, that means we learned how to do really basic stuff such as picking shit up off of the floor, opening doors, or even going outside. Don’t make us feel like we’re incompetent.

9. Can I ask you a personal question?

This goes really well with question number 2 and I don’t know what more I can say about that. However we do get several other weird questions.

From what I understand people are wanting to know if I am able to have sex. Most are smart enough not to ask me, but they fail by asking my girlfriend. Is she not supposed to be mad at the same question?

Ask a valid question, that is not rude, we are not talking parrots on display for your amusement.

10. Hey Speed Racer. Can you pop a wheelie?

Don’t be going around referring to a grown adult by a cartoony name. Just because I’m going by you does not mean you need to be calling me Speed Racer.

I do not mind the wheelie part of the question however, I can do it, and I even taught some of my friends, who were not disabled, to be able to do it to.


3 thoughts on “10 Things Not to Say to a Person in a Wheelchair”

  1. Very interesting post. I guess I think all handicap people should feel the way I do and it’s post like this that bring me back to reality that they don’t. There are a few things I agree with, some I don’t and some I don’t care about.

    1.Slow down there. You might get a speeding ticket.
    This is one is extremely funny and I usually reply “Only if you can catch me”

    2.What happened to you?
    I have yet to find any person or situation that makes this question wrong.

    3.How fast does that thing go?
    When I was in a manual I would reply “As fast as my arms can make it” then we laugh.
    Now I’m in an electric one and it has a radar on it so I can tell them exactly how fast, I usually prefer “Faster than you can outrun me before I get your toes” then we laugh.

    4.Do you know so and so in a wheelchair too?
    I live in a very small town so the answer is probably “Yes”. However, when I lived in a big city I would simply reply “Nope, don’t know her/him. You’ll have to introduce us one day.”

    5. Is your significant other also in a wheelchair?
    He actually was (divorced now) but prior to that I dated an able-body man and, yeah, that question ticked me off. I’d simply say “No, not unless I break his legs by running them over” That didn’t get laughs but it did shut them up.

    6. I’d rather die than be disabled.
    That one gets my goat but I don’t mind if they tell me. I will say something like “If it ever happens to you, you may feel different” and leave it at that.

    7.You’re good-looking for being in a wheelchair.
    Okay, this one pisses me off to no end. I also get “Your pretty for a chubby girl” What the hell? Just…no… no.

    8. Good for you.
    Also pisses me off. I wrote about this in my “Pity Party Pooper” blog. I usually tip the ball back in their court by saying “Good for me, what?” And depending the stupidity of their reply – it will always be stupid – I will go on to further force them to explain what they mean until they are embarrassed, mission accomplished.

    9. Can I ask you a personal question?
    I don’t mind this one at all. They can ask me about sex, bathroom habits, how is it I get dressed by myself and a myriad of other questions. You can’t learn until you ask.

    10. Hey Speed Racer. Can you pop a wheelie?
    Not in my electric chair. It has bars to prevent it. I could pop the hell out of them in my manual one. When they asked, I’d show them.

    Maybe it’s all in how someone views the world, themselves and the people around them. I would definitely say some people don’t like these questions but I wouldn’t go so far as to say never ask them to anyone.

  2. When people ask me what happened, I often allow my expression to darken, and say, “Pirates. Don’t ask.” If I can manage to keep a straight face, It usually shuts them up.

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