Deanna and I were going to go for a pizza. Eventually, though, we had to choose another option because it was windy, and we couldn’t be bothered to walk the distance to get one.
Hold on a minute. What was that word? “Walk”. Someone who spends most of his days confined to his wheelchair had described himself as doing the one thing he doesn’t actually do, except for when an adult is helping him with their hands in his armpits. In actual fact, I use this description of my movements all the time, but I only noticed when I was telling a friend of mine that pizza story – and when I did, I smiled to myself. This is because I realised how clever it was. I saw how it allowed me to put myself on an equal level with others, without ever even realising. I don’t walk, but by describing driving my chair somewhere as walking, I am without any kind of label for that split second. You could almost say that for an instant, I unknowingly cast away my disability.
Equality is very important to me, as it should be to everyone, but for me it is made even more so by the fact that people have always done whatever they can to help me feel accepted, in turn making me even more determined to return the favour. However, I have now noticed that I can do part of what others do for me simply by using this language. I can say that I’ve walked, dashed, bolted or done whatever others have just to inject tiny, continuous doses of normality into my life. And in the process, I can help others in an additional way by letting them know that it is OK to say things like that. You won’t offend me, you’ll reassure me, and you’ll take another important step towards achieving equality, which everyone should have without exception.
Just don’t say “spastic”. I hate that word. It’s horrible, most people don’t even know exactly what it means, and if that applies to you you really should watch what you say. Are we clear? Good.