I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was two years old, so I have lived through my fair and unfair share of people either not believing that I am in pain and just thinking that I’m crazy, because apparently, kids can’t get arthritis (according to most brilliant high school dropouts in central Illinois.) So, with my entire eighteen years of life experience, I want to share with the world how to not insult those of us with invisible disabilities.

1. Don’t be ignorant

2. Don't be ignorant

3. Don't be ignorant

4. Don't be ignorant

5. Don't be ignorant

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11. And finally, don’t be ignorant

Ask questions. I wear my shirts from fundraisers and summer camps associated with the Arthritis Foundation as a conversation starter. I want people to ask questions so that I can share information with them that they may not know. But, there is a line.

Don’t ask super invasive questions or just assume things.

It makes me feel so supported when people offer homemade tonics for pain management or swelling, but please don’t ask me if I know when I will go into a flare-up (trust me, if I knew, I would put them in my planner, organize my life around those times, and it would be super-convenient for me and all of those surrounding me.) And, please, I beg, no matter how much you think you know better than her, do not walk up to a mother in a grocery store and inform her that she should not be carrying her five-year-old around. That child may not be able to walk, because what looks to you as just a child with chubby legs may be an arthritic child with legs so swollen that they cannot stand or move without support.

The point I’m trying to put across is: do not be an ignorant person. Ask your questions, help people that look as if they need help, and remember that everything isn’t as it seems.