Staring is something we have all done at some point in our lives...many say it's a natural thing to do but there comes a point where staring becomes rude, offensive and hurtful.
A street entertainer doing amazing, unbelievable tricks making everyone stare - that's ok.
A person standing on steps, chair, stage to give a unprompted speech making people stare wondering what going to be said - that's ok.
A child sits in a wheelchair, screaming while his mother tries to console him and people stare, muttering under their breath - not ok.
A woman walking with a dog by her side, not a pet dog but a guide dog and people stand pointing and staring - not ok.
Staring has become a big part of my world as well as that of my family. It was easier when Roo was a baby as you couldn't really tell that there was something different about him...as he got older he remained using a buggy and we get comments like " isn't he too old for a buggy" , " he is lazy , you should be making him walk" and so on. We then moved onto a sn buggy before finally accepting the wheelchair and now people would know he had additional needs. We got many more stares but this time I recognised some of the stares were simply admiring his Mickey Mouse wheels! Children would come up and say "Mickey" or "I love Mickey" , even adults would come up and say how cool the wheels were and I didn't mind those stares. We got a lot more smiles from people who seemed to have more understanding, more accepting of his needs due to the wheelchair. But we also get the accusing stares when we go somewhere and we let Roo have a walk about as its safe or we let him play in the park and they stare because he gets out of the wheelchair and walks. You can see them staring , thinking "why is he in a chair if he can walk?" I've had people come up saying he isn't disabled and I shouldn't use a wheelchair as its only for children who can't walk. Shows how ignorant some people can be...once explained many develop some better understanding that majority of wheelchair users can walk, some less than others and some more than others and some who need it for other reasons like behaviour, etc. We have the wheelchair due to Roo's inability to walk long distances, his behaviour issues like refusing to walk, no sense of danger as wants to run onto the road onto oncoming traffic, or run into the rivers or anything that may cause harm, and also because he dislocates his knees regularly and has some days where he is in pain with his hypermobility. But many still don't understand and I guess they won't unless they have been in your shoes or know a close friend/ family who are in the same position as you are.
For example today after nursery Roo decided he didn't want to go in the chair and that was fine and we walked pushing the chair together for a few mins till Roo decided he had enough and tried to run off...I got hold of him and tried to explain ...this went on for a while as he kept dropping to the ground refusing to walk, refusing to hold my hand, refusing to listen... I kept saying to him that he could either go in his chair or hold my hand and walk beside me but then as I saw him just laying on the ground not listening, just in his own happy wee world I wondered if he understood what I was trying to say... Eventually I had no choice but to make him go in his chair as we were never going to get home at this rate and he is getting much bigger and harder to physically hold. It was a battle of wills to get him in the chair, but I managed and he bent right over putting his head between his legs and wailed as loudly as he could. I tried to talk to him but he didn't understand, I had no choice but to continue walking up the street to get home...due to the noise he was making every head turned and stared. I could see some people shaking their heads at me... They probably were wondering why I was letting him wail, why I let him sit bending forward in an uncomfortable position but as any parent with a child with additional needs will understand that once they go into meltdown mode nothing will console them, nothing will snap them out of it, that if you try to console them it can make them worse, push you away so all you can do is ride it out. I could feel myself walking faster, desperate to get home away from the stares, away from everything... As we arrived in the street where we live he calmed down and allowed me to hug him and wipe his tear stained face..the meltdown had lasted almost an hour..he was exhausted as was I and finally in the comforts of our home I could forget about the stares and worrying about what others think...normally I don't let it get to me but on days like this it does ....
It's not just because of Roo's disability that we get stares...we also get stares because I have a guide dog. A Hearing Dog for the Deaf. She is a gorgeous working cocker x show cocker dog who attracts attention wherever she goes. It's natural for people to look and be curious, reading the words on her coat to understand what she is which I don't mind as it helps to make people aware that I am deaf but it's the pointing and whispers and constant staring that really bothers me. I find it so rude seeing someone stop in their tracks, stare at Pepper and then stare at me before grabbing the person who they are with and pointing at me , whispering. I've actually seen some people nearly walk into walls, shelves because they were too busy staring at me! A quick glance, a smile is much better than being gawped at for a long time. Once I was in Asda shopping when this man stopped and stared at me...he followed me down the aisle and then disappeared only to bring three other people and pointed at me and they all just stood staring muttering to each other! I just ignored them and walked off but inside I was upset and fed up. For a person who gets anxious and struggles it's so hard to be stared at, pointed at, talked about, it makes you so self conscious that sometimes I think " have I got something on my face?" " is there something stuck to my clothes?" I am slowly developing a thicker skin and it won't be long before I will lose my temper at someone if they carry on the staring ....maybe they need someone to stand up to them to make them see how rude and hurtful they can be. Don't stare at us because we have disabilities.. We don't stare at you because you have a weird sense of taste in clothes, because you have tattoos and so on. We may have disabilities but at the end of the day we are human and have feelings too..treat us how you would expect to be treated.