I was on a call the other day, trying to make sense of error messages spewed forth by my computer (I eventually learned that the hard drive had died…another story entirely!). The connection was really, really bad and the person in customer service was speaking very quickly and slurring words on top of it. So, I asked her to please slow down and indicated it was hard to hear what she was saying because of the bad connection.
I’d already told her that I had a disability that made it difficult for me to lug my computer down to the “nearest” authorized dealer…
So, in response to my plea for slower and clearer speech, she began to “sing-song” her words and dumb down her language. As if I was hard of brain, as well as hard of hearing!
I immediately clarified.
“I might have a disability, but it doesn’t mean I’m feeble-minded. The problem is that the connection is bad and you’re speaking too quickly. Why don’t we hang up and start all over?”
She agreed to call me back, did so, and we had a much clearer and more appropriate conversation.
You might have experienced this phenomenon, too. Whether your disability is visible or not, once you put it out there, some people might think it’s affecting your brain as well as your body. Which, well, there is lupus brain fog, and there are moments of exasperation…but…these are not permanent conditions and no reason to treat someone as if they were a child in an adult’s body.
Always leaping forward into that “teachable moment,” I usually try to point these kinds of things out, as I did on this particular service call. Nicely, as much as possible, but clearly. It can be frustrating and energy-sapping to do so, but we’re all better off in the long run.
If you are not disabled, but come across someone who is, please check yourself if you find yourself speaking as to a child or a pet. And if you are disabled and are on the receiving end of said, well-meaning person’s speech, take a deep breath and then let the person know you’re perfectly able to handle whatever situation as an adult. I’m right there with you!
Blessings for the day,