Have you helped a disabled person?

Please don't help!

Many people today are sensitized to the concerns of disabled people and would like to offer them help spontaneously. This often leads to conflicts.

Recently in a Cologne supermarket. The 28-year-old Jürgen has no problems with daily shopping. With skillful routine, he moves his wheelchair through the shelves. What gives him a lot of trouble, however, are the uninvited coercive helpers. "As soon as I'm in the supermarket, a shadow approaches from the side, grabs my coin and fetches the shopping cart for me from the depot," says Jürgen: "Nobody seems to be interested in whether I really want this help."

Katja has already experienced something similar. Born in Berlin, she is an absolute professional in the turbulent traffic of the capital. She is actually only helpless with "uninvited helpers". "If a pedestrian sees me on the side of the road, he gets a blue light in his head and pushes me across the street without asking," says Katja. "They only stop coercive helping when I yell at them or pat them on the fingers." A mere “No, thank you” is not enough.

Compulsory help can cause frustration and stress in disabled people. (Photo: Unsplash)

Respect the autonomy of the other person

For the qualified psychologist Tim Glogner, understanding and sensitivity are required on both sides in order to resolve such situations without conflict.

"Many mean it really well, but sometimes they forget to respect the other person's autonomy"

, says Glogner: “Dialogue is required here on both sides. If this does not take place, both parties will be frustrated. "

"It is very important that both sides do something to defuse this conflict," says Mathes Dues. Until recently, the psychologist, actor and director Mathes Dues hosted the program “Self-determined - Living with a Disability” on MDR.

“Non-disabled people are often overwhelmed when they come into contact with disabled people. They want to help spontaneously, but at the same time feel insecure because they have little practice in dialogue with disabled people. " For their part, those affected feel degraded if they are pushed around or patronized without being asked.

The helper must clarify in advance whether the person with disabilities needs help. (Photo: Unsplash)

Ask first, then help

Mathes Dues believes that someone without a disability should first ask whether their help is wanted at all:

"If an elderly lady tows herself with her shopping bags, I don't tear them out of her hand either, but first politely ask if I can help with carrying them."

For their part, people with disabilities should develop a sensitivity for the insecurity of the other person and politely but firmly refuse to provide help if it is really not needed. For example, with the words: "It is very nice that you want to help me, but I can handle myself."

However, if help is needed, clear instructions should be given as to how and to what extent to help. Tim Glogner says: "It is important that helpers clarify in advance what the disabled person can do, what he would like to try himself, even if it may be slower at first."

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