Working with the Disabled

  1. Remember that the person is a person first, just like everyone else, except for the limitations imposed by the disability.

  2. The disability need not be ignored, it is a fact of this person's life, BUT until your relationship is one of friendship, show friendly interest in THE PERSON, not the disability.

  3. Be yourself. Talk about things you would discuss with anyone else you might meet.

  4. Do not help the person without asking first. People may like to do things on their own. Offer your assistance, but don't insist on it. Let the individual decide what and how much help is needed (if any).

  5. Let the person set the pace of walking or talking. 

  6. Be glad to laugh with the person.

  7. Don't stare when you see a person with a disability. It's common  courtesy.

  8. Don't be over-protective or over-solicitous. Don't shower the rider with false kindness or be over-sympathetic. The rider is more accustomed to the disability than you are. Your friendship would be more appreciated than your sympathy.

  9. Don't ask embarrassing questions. The rider will discuss the disability with you as he or she feels comfortable doing so...DON'T PRY!!  

  10. Don't offer pity or charity. Most people with disabilities would like to be treated as equals, and to have a chance to prove themselves. Therapeutic riding offers them an opportunity to do something many able-bodied people never achieve. Don't dilute their victories.

  11. Don't take someone's crutches or wheelchair away without asking. They may want them near-by.

  12. Don't prejudge individuals with disabilities.

  13. Have fun with the riders. Their philosophies and good humor probably will inspire you.Their reciprocal friendship will delight you. You will have fun helping them. They will have fun helping you.