Some thoughts on adaptations for disability

I have been thinking of this for some time.  I am a person with disabilities and in order to be able to fully function, I need a variety of adaptations, my approach to finding these adaptations goes something like this:

  1. Find ways which I can adapt my “self” in order to be able to deal with the situation.
  2. Find ways to change the situation so that I can better function within it.
  3. Find other people to work with me to find adaptations for that situation.
  4. Leave that situation (temporarily preferably, but sometimes permanently).

If I can work at the first level, that means that I can simply move forward.  One of these examples, is learning how to fall safely.  If I can learn to fall safely (when possible) that means that I can work with situations where I am not really able to do anything to change the situation.

It can mean that I can just safely trip and fall, and not hurt myself (well not hurt myself badly).

Now the roads around here can be icy at times.  I’d rather not be falling on a regular basis because of the icy roads, so I can put something on my boots to help reduce the risk of slipping on that ice, that will be changing the situation somewhat.  And it is something I can do, but so far I haven’t found that sort of solution, in a manner that doesn’t prove to be cumbersome, as so far everything I have found needs to be taken off and put on, and doing so is somewhat of a difficult thing (not impossible, but having done part (1) it is less needed, so here we are talking about balancing how things end up working).

If by the point that I have worked with both of those, I am still not finding an acceptable solution (and for the most part I have in reality) I then can look at things that people can do to help assist me.  I can ask for someone to come with me when I go out (simple, this could be done by anyone who is capable of doing that).  I can ask that ice be better dealt with (more complicated, as it seems that often the parties involved are difficult to communicate with).  I can ask someone else to help me find a way to get that ice dealt with (now I’m dealing with multiple layers of people, but for me this can be more effective, if I can get those people to follow through).

If having failed to find a solution for myself (learning to better deal with it), failed to find a way to change the situation myself (change things I can change (and this could involve removing, or “deslipping” the ice myself)), and failing to find a solution that works with the help of others.  I am then left with deciding to “leave” the situation.  For the icy roads, I will do this by way of turning around and shortening my walk, for a period of time (often frequently trying to find ways that I can see if I can go a bit further each successive attempt).

I find that works out well for myself.  With the exception that I run into the problem when trying to work with those people (step 3) they seem to think that I should apply this process myself, and that I have not done any of it prior to working with them.

I believe when someone asks for your help with adapting to a situation, the best way to approach it is:

  1. Find ways that you can provide an effective adaptaion yourself for the person.
  2. Adapt the situation itself in a way which will allow the person to better participate.
  3. Ask the person to help you find ways that you can adapt the situation.
  4. Find ways that you can get someone else to help you (ie. step out and bring someone else in).
  5. Admit that the situation cannot be adapted, and that you lack the resources.

It has been my experience that the process is almost never like this.  When it is, it is often so refreshing that I end up becoming less functional as I have usually come prepared to not have any appropriate response without significant effort on my part, and I end up “deflating” in such situations.  Though this may be a case where having allowed myself to prepare, I am now noticing that I am over prepared.  Being over prepared, rather than being ready to tackle it, I now have nothing to do, so “collapse” in a way.  This is probably a good thing.  As it is my body/mind realizing a rest is available, and taking it.

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