Think twice before you hold the door for a disabled person

Gary Karp is a master juggler

Gary Karp  is a disabilty advocate, a master juggler, journalist and an accomplished writer. On a summer day in 1973, he committed an incredible blunder. He was 18 and a neighbor offered him an opportunity to make $500 cutting trees. Karp,  in his first attempt using a chain saw cut across a big branch and in seconds fell 25 feet on to the ground sustaining a spinal cord injury. Karp has not walked since then. But his disability became an incredible, life-changing experience.

What happens when you chase a wheel chair to feel good helping a disabled person?  Do the disabled have sex? How do the disabled come to terms with their own disability?  

Disability etiquette 101: Before you hold the door for a disabled person

The next time you hold the door for a disabled person, think twice. Most likely they will not need your help. And, if you really intent to help them, make sure that you do not open the door and block the person’s way. Karp says this happens all the time and he understands everyone wants to be generous, but sometimes it is counterproductive.

Sex and disability

The disabled do have sex and the blue pill has revolutionized the way it’s done.  “Sexuality is not whether you can participate in genital intercourse- it is so much more, enjoying being together,” Karp says. He adds that many people with disabilities find new aspects of sexuality- sex becomes gentle, and  takes on a slower pace. Intercourse is now an option for many people with disabilities and Viagra is also being widely used. Disability does not preclude intimacy.

Disability and a walking and wheeling mind

Karp has a walking mind that occasionally disappoints him with emotions and a wheeling mind that keeps him focused on what he intents to do. The wheeling mind tells him to discover his  possibilities instead of focusing on what he has lost.  The wheeling mind also tells him that  the wheel chair is his source of  mobility and  that he is liberated by his wheel chair. 

” I am always grieving what I’ve lost- I loved basketball. There are certain things I cant do.  The wheeling mind says I shouldnt keep my attention on what I can’t do, I should learn what my possibilities are.” When you are still stuck with grief, that’s a pathology that needs to be treated. “What I discovered is that I if there is something I can’t gain from my loss I will be multiplying my loss.”

A few tips from Karp if you are disabled

  • Set appropriate goals
  • Move at a reasonable pace, reach out to people, be patient with yourself in the beginning
  • Make use of resources available- the therapists and rehab folks can change your life forever
  • Take little steps and you will discover that the body will integrate if you give it opportunity
  • You won’t get there without falling
  • Mistakes are not failure; theyare information
  • You don’t adapt to disability without frustration, people move forward.  

Karp talked about disability at a lecture at A.T. Still University  recently. The lecture was sponsored by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and TiLite Wheel chairs.

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