Things Not To Say To Those With Disabilities

11 Things You Should Not Say To Those With Disabilities If You Care About Them

Do you know someone that has a disability, whether it be mental or physical?


Maybe you've seen them around campus or the community and have tried to communicate with them, but they took it the wrong way. Here are some things you probably said that, although well-intentioned, came across as rude or insensitive.

1. "What's wrong with you?"

This is especially a no-no when you have met someone for the first time or very few times. It makes them feel like the first thing you've noticed about them is their disability. Also, think about how you would feel being asked about your medical history by someone you hardly know. Not cool, right?

2. "It's so good to see you out and about!"

Yeah, those with disabilities don't necessarily take it very well when someone says that to them. Solely because it makes it seem like them being in a social setting is strange or a miraculous action. Those with disabilities can lead active, social, and interesting lives. Make them feel included!

3. "With all the medical research going on nowadays, isn't there a way to fix you?"

Misbah Chhotani

No joke someone has asked me this question before while I was minding my own business. This question is just wrong on so many levels. It suggests that you think something is wrong with them, and there isn't! Having a disability is part of a person's identity, and it's not something they see as negative usually. Also, I'm pretty certain that the person with the disability has a strong network of doctors that are working to support them and improve their daily life situation. They don't need any more recommendations.

4. "But you look good/pretty!"


This may seem like a compliment, but this statement suggests that being pretty doesn't pair with having a disability. Do you expect someone that has a disability to be frumpy or unattractive? NOT COOL!

5. "Here let me do that for you."


Everyone can use a little help now and then, whether they have a disability or not, but it's important to respect space and independence. Offer help, but don't make a big deal about it. There is a difference between helping and taking over their life.

6. "Hey buddy/sweetie!" *insert head pat/fist pump/high five attempt/hair ruffle*


Unless the person with the disability is an actual child, please don't do this! It "talks them down" and implies that you think they are less intelligent or less mature than they really are.

7. "My neighbor (insert name) has a disability, do you know her?" 


Imagine you traveling overseas and someone asks you if you know their random friend in Australia. And chances are you don't them because Austrailia's population is HUGE. People with a disability don't know each other. There's not a secret club where all the world's population that has a disability convenes!

8. *ignores the fact that person with a disability is even there*


Must I even explain myself... this is just wrong!

9. "You're just so inspiring!"

Again, this is a well-intentioned comment. If the person you're talking to has done something incredible like set an ambitious goal and achieved it, then go ahead and say they're inspiring. But if you're just saying that because the person has a disability, refrain from using this compliment. In their eyes, they're just living their life and probably going about their day-to-day activities such as going to work/school, cooking, and watching an episode of "Stranger Things." None of these actions need a praise attached.

10. "I'm sorry, you're disabled."

Why are you apologizing for something out of everyone's control?

11. "How do you use the bathroom/or go to sleep?"

Questioning how someone uses the restroom is a rude question-- period. It can be especially offensive to a person with a disability because it assumes that the person has trouble managing basic tasks. While you may be curious about how a person with disabilities manages things, unless they voluntarily relay the information, it's really none of your business!

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