When I started my blog almost five years ago, I was because I wanted a way to articulate some of the things I was going through. Living with various diagnoses is challenging on the best of days, and can be frustrating and discouraging on the days that are not so good. Writing has always been incredibly therapeutic for me. I write down those things that are hard for me to say, and from the start, I was writing about things deep within my soul. I wasn’t even sure how much I wanted other people to know. In the beginning, I made sure kept it anonymous. My hope was that people would focus on my feelings more than my identity.
After a while it occurred to me that I wasn’t saying anything bad when I posted, I was simply raw and honest, and therefore, it was okay to share who I was. And so I did.
Sometimes I have used this blog to vent. Sometimes it has been a place to celebrate. Always it has been a place to share who I am. Eventually, this blog caught on. And my followers swelled to over 600. (Recently there has been a problem on WordPress and a few weeks back I lost almost 500 followers overnight. Nobody I know can figure out why…But I digress)
Over time I began to get feedback. The most common comment I have received from my readers is a message like this:
“Lorraine, I want to be respectful of people with disabilities; I just don’t know what to do. And because I don’t want to be offensive to anyone, I end up not doing anything.”
I get it. Really I do. When I am around certain people who I don’t have much experience with, I am awkward and uncomfortable. I also don’t want to do anything wrong. So I stay quiet and I usually try to get myself out of the situation as quickly as possible.
But here is the thing. One of my purposes in life, I believe, is to break down barriers between people with disabilities and those without disabilities. The awkwardness? The discomfort? I want it to fade away.
When I thought about how I might do my small part to make that happen…I wrote a book.
“More the Same than Different: A Practical Guide to Respect and Include People with Disabilities” is a book for people without disabilities about how to be more comfortable around people with disabilities.
Is it ever appropriate for someone without a disability to use the accessible stall in the bathroom?
What is “inspiration porn?”
If I am sitting next to a wheelchair user and everyone in the room stands up, should I remain seated?
Does Lorraine work with “caregivers” or “caretakers”? What is the difference?
What should someone do if he or she sees someone with a disability who looks like they might need some help?
Why is it so important to be sitting if you are having a serious conversation with a wheelchair user?
What are some disability “hacks?”
Is there appropriate use of language when interacting with people with disabilities?
What was it like being crowned Ms. Wheelchair Kansas 2007?
What is the one thing people can do to help you feel respected as a person with a disability?
What is the coolest accommodation Lorraine has ever heard of?
Why should disability issues like empowerment and inclusion be important to everyone in America?
What should someone do if their best friend just got diagnosed with a significant disability?
What is the best way to hug a wheelchair user?
Why is touch so important for people with disabilities?
How does Lorraine feel about getting assistance from various government programs?
What is an appropriate response if somebody’s grandmother just said something which is now considered offensive to people with disabilities?
What if someone has had a bad experience around people with disabilities in the past?
The book is going to be released sometime later this fall, and I could not be more excited about the way it is coming together. The cover design is amazing and several people are in the process of reading the book and making suggestions about how it can be even better. I just can’t wait to share it with the world.
If you want to know the answer to any of the questions above or if you simply want to learn more about some of the things that people with disabilities are affected by, I have a fabulous idea.
Just book it!
We are all more the same than different…