Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Special Exposure Wednesday...We've got wheels!!!

Look at what we picked up yesterday...

We are borrowing this chair from the Spastic Centre until funding comes through for Ashlea's own wheelchair.  It is a surprisingly good fit and Ashlea enjoyed trying it out yesterday afternoon.  I always thought that the day we picked up Ashlea's first wheelchair would be really emotional.  However because the loan chair became available quite quickly I didn't have the opportunity to dwell on it too much.  Probably a good thing.  The surprising thing - and there have been many surprising things along this journey - was that it wasn't emotional in a sad "my child's in a wheelchair" kind of way at all.  I did feel a little teary - not because it was sad - rather because it was such a delight to see Ashlea using the chair and trying to get around.  She really enjoyed the freedom.  I think she particularly enjoyed being able to see where she was going - usually when she is crawling she just goes along full pelt and every so often will stop and look around to get her bearings.  In the chair she could see where she wanted to go and try to get there.  We still have a long way to go with getting her used to pushing it herself - but she seems to 'get' that she has control of where she wants to go, so hopefully that will help her be motivated to self-propel.

On the way home from picking up the chair, I stopped at a large chain of huts that serves pizza to get some dinner.  I thought I'd be brave and take the chair in rather than the pram (another surprise - the chair is lighter than the pram).  I had been dreading that first outing in the wheelchair so I thought I'd just get it over and done with.

Well, you'd think those poor boys who work there had never seen a person in a wheelchair before.  They were so gobsmacked at the sight of Ashlea that they nearly forgot to make the pizza.  I had to remind them to go make the pizza.  I had always imagined that the looks and comments would be more subtle.  Nope. 
They started with:

"Is she sick?"
Me - No she has a disability.

Then it became:

"I feel so terrible for children like this"

"I hope she gets better one day"

"Will she walk" (you can visualise the head shaking when I told them that wasn't likely)

"What is her disability" (more head shaking and tut-tutting when I said cerebral palsy)

It was really quite full on.  I was trying to give simple answers as I didn't really want to have a lengthy discussion with them.  And I didn't know what to say.  Ashlea doesn't feel terrible that she has these disabilities so I don't know how to deal with total strangers who claim to feel terrible on her behalf.  Please feel free to leave clever retorts in the comments that I can use in the future!

Anyway, I wonder if Ashlea picked up on it all because when we got to the car (the pizza guy had to carry the pizzas for me as I hadn't yet worked out you have no free hands when pushing a wheelchair) I said to Ashlea:

"Say bye bye to the pizza man"

Ashlea whispered "bye bye"

I put her in the car and as the man walked away (out of ear shot thankfully) she said:

"Bye bye stinky"

I looked at her and said "WHAT did you just say"

She looked back and said "Bye bye poo-poo"

Don't forget to check out the other Special Exposure Wednesday photos here.


Carolin said...

soo cute! I like to think she was telling the pizza guy where to go ;-P

Beth said...

found your blog through 5 min for special needs. beautiful kids!

Casey said...

Maddison says 'well that was awesome' (watching the video!)



Kath said...

So glad a poo word got into that story!!! So funny and so typical of the world around us ...

Lacey said...

Its really sad, but thats why I didn't want a wheelchair for Jax yet. He's so little, I didn't want that stigma. I know, I'm a bad mommy.

Sarah said...

Fantastic to see Ashlea use the wheelchair on that video!~

pandsjm said...

My 11 yo daughter has used a wheel chair for 7 years now. She is in main stream school and I find that most kids/people feel awkward when confronted with a child in a wheelchair. They usually just want to know why but often express it badly. Its up to me and my daughter to help them learn to be comfortable with it. I have been trying to teach my daughter to answer questions about her disability herself. We have worked out a standard response which usually satisfies people's curiosity and acceptance easily follows. Happy to talk more about it with you. Sybil.

Belinda said...

Stinky, poo-poo, love it!

Great to have the wheelchair! xx.

CristyLynn said...

Congrats on all you did in one day! Our first day with the chair was exciting and emotional for me. I still get a little emotional taking Isaiah into new situations in his chair. We get all kinds of questions from "What happened?" to "What's wrong with him?"
Amazingly I can handle questions from other children better than I can from most adults. The kids have such an innocent tone in their voices and seem genuinely concerned. The adults on the other hand seem to be fake sensitive and I often feel annoyed.
This is a long comment, sorry, but it's still on my mind a lot! I haven't come up with great replies yet, but I will let you know if I do! :)
Hope Ashlea's own chair comes in soon! Looks like she's doing great with the loaner!

Beverly said...

looks like a great chair. hope she gets her own soon.

ferfischer said...

ohmigosh! I LOVED the video. I especially love to hear Aussies talking - I really hope I get to meet you in person some day! She's doing SO great! You know, we got Cici's adaptive stroller, and it looks like a giant stroller, not a wheelchair because it doesn't have big wheelchair wheels, but it is a LOT more obvious to everyone that she is disabled and not just a big baby in a stroller. I am surprised by the reactions as well sometimes, but I try to be brave and use it every time we are out, because I'm going to have to get used to it. I have no snarky remarks for you - we're just starting as well, but we just go one about our business and I try not to let people go on and on about the chair or her disabilities - I just move forward - I find that people will most likely take your lead and move forward too - like a normal person! Too bad this is our burden, but still - it works!

shopannies said...

I student taught one year and learned quickly that children catch onto lots and bless her heart I think she dealt with it wonderfully

Wherever HE Leads We'll Go said...

That video is wonderful! She looks great pushing the chair. It cracks me up that she called the pizza man stinky! I am with you - I have no clever retort for comments like that!

We are waiting on a chair for my daughter. It has been a very long process. In a way I am excited to get it because I know it will be great for her, but I am sure there will be some emotions welling up when the day finally arrives.

Coley said...

Oh that's exciting that she has her own (albeit loaner) wheels now. I thought I would be sad when Noah got his first wheels too but I saw the independence it gave him and that made me happy and proud.

We deal with stares and comments in public a lot. I get quite outdone with it all and can't believe the nerve of some people with some of the things they say and ask. I've learned it's just one of things that makes us strong. Easier said than done though!

Big brother, Little sister. said...

Hi Alison! wow Ashlea looks awesome! TEll her that she made me giggle with that comment- how hilarious!!! good on her! gee people can say dumb things! I also find it so bizarre that people have no idea about wheelchairs and ask these stupid things infront of our children who understand everything. Bron xo

Megan said...

Hi there,
I watched your video of Ashlea with the hugest smile on my face. It was delightful to see your gorgeous little girl so happy to have gained the freedom to move! Love it!!! Congratulations on the acquisition of the loan chair and look forward to more vids and pics when her other chair arrives!


Anna said...

Aah yes. Those great old comments *sigh*. Ashlea is so perceptive isn't she? I can remember feeling so anxious when we first used Ryley's tiger stroller in public. In some ways it is screaming to the world that you have a child with a disability and it almost invites people to stare or comment.
I find other kids seem to have the best reactions. Most want to hop on board or they say how cool it is.

In terms of people commenting, I may just be a harsh bitch, but I tend to just say what I think.
So if people say they feel sorry for Ryley, I just ask why? I tend to explain that he has a great life thank you very much.

Awkward though. I know people think they are saying the right thing, but sheesh!

Ashlea looks incredibly grown up in that wheelchair by the way. I can imagine she will be tearing around in no time!!

Ally said...

That video is awesome Alison! Look at Ashlea go! What an amazing feeling it must be for her {and you guys too}

Alison said...

Thanks for all your comments!

Sybil - I'd love to hear your daughters standard responses. How do I contact you guys??? I have a christmas letter sitting on my desk for you...but no address to send it to!

Casey - love Maddison's comment!

I'll keep you all informed on our wheelchair progress and if I come up with any good come-backs!

Michelle said...

I bet it won't be any time before she is wheeling herself all around! (then you'll have free hands!) I can't believe how blatant those guys were with their questions and all...some people just don't know any tact I guess.

Oh, to answer your question on my picture - no they are not always that sweet to each other! I sure wish they were though :)