"Remember that not everyone understands things or thinks in the same manner."
For most, activities of daily living, such as reading the newspaper, sending an email, shopping for groceries and driving are somewhat second nature.
We do not really need to think much about how to get these things done or what steps to take to accomplish them. However, for some, these tasks actually can be difficult. Estimates say that about 650 million people live with a form of disability. It can even be classifies as the world's largest minority group.
Disability can be summarily defined as a condition that can impair, limit or place restrictions on an individual's ability to function in the world he or she lives in. It can affect different aspects of ones life, although the degree of limitation impairment or restriction in causes may vary. These areas include:
a) Physical handicaps or disabilities, such as hearing impairments, blindness, as well as paralysis and inability to move or control the body. These limitations may make navigating in everyday situations more difficult for them.
b) Cognitive disabilities including dementia, mental retardation, learning disabilities and brain injuries. Individuals with cognitive handicaps may take more time to learn things or need special attention or supervision to cope with the demands of everyday life.
c) Psychological and Socio-emotional problems or conditions such as anxiety, depression and other mental conditions. These may limit one from functioning effectively in situations that may appear simple and of common sense to most of us.
The number of individuals with disabling conditions continue to rise, as statistics show. Some reasons for the increase of these conditions include lifestyle illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes, the emergence and increased awareness of other health conditions such as HIV/AIDS, Autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, the stressful demands of everyday life, armed conflict and violence, and the advancement of modern technology which increase the life span and allow those with conditions that were previously fatal or "hopeless" to now survive, such as infants born extremely prematurely.
While the government, particularly in many first world nations like America, make provisions and support people with disabilities, there are many things we can also do to help embrace the differently-abled around us.
For one, while many companies employ individuals with special needs, we can help make their adjustment easier by being kinder and more patient with them. Remember the movie I am Sam starring Sean Penn? That is an example of embracing the differently abled. Understandably, there are limitations to their capabilities, and for us who may be rushing through life, it can be difficult to always make adjustments but we all can try, right
Secondly, we need to recognize and appreciate everyone's individual differences, whether they have disabilities or not. Remember that not everyone understands things or thinks in the same manner. An example of this can be seen in an episode of Grey's Anatomy where Doctors Hunt and Altman, both army based doctors before settling in Seattle, were unable to effectively communicate to their surgical team what they were talking about because they were using a language that could not be understand by the typical person. In everyday life, we fall into this trap often. Keeping in mind that others may not understand you can help limit this from happening.
In the workplace, or for younger ones in the classroom setting, making adjustments to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses or handicap can make them not only cope with things around them, but to even excel. For example, forcing an individual to read from a text when they struggle with dyslexia will only further impede their ability to learn. However, providing them with audio books or having someone read the passages to them may prove their learning potentials.
Most importantly, however, one way we can embrace the differently abled is to not make them feel that they are to be pitied or cannot do things for themselves. For example, people who are diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses such as cancer often say that once people find out they are ill, they are treated differently. Yes, they may need allowances from time to time, but this does not mean they like being treated like an invalid. Giving them opportunities to still attend to themselves and participate in a relatively normal life will allow them to become empowered and valued citizens of our nation.
About Author - Marina Chernyak is co-owner of 1001 Shops LLC and manages her walking canes store 1001WalkingCanes.com
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