Disability interventions, how can you confront a disabled person?

When we intervene in the lives of others, we do so because we care. We love. How can we communicate that care and love?  We intervene in the lives of others daily, but these are in usual social situations like holding a door. When we note that someone is becoming disabled it is harder.

The idea of a formal intervention became popular several years ago with people who had addictions. Since then, the popular media has applied the idea to other situations. With disabilities interventions often occur when parents intervene to get assistance for a child. I would like to talk about intervening in the affairs of another adult whose abilities are failing.

It is normal to lose some abilities as we age. Most of us realize that we can’t play sports like we used to. That is not a problem unless our identity exists around that. Most adults see decreased abilities as a problem of old age. However, life and diseases often make that a reality before we think we are old. 

When someone we care about struggles to do things, we are tempted to intervene. When someone struggles to carry something, it is natural to offer to help. However, other situations arise that aren’t so simple. How can we intervene in the poor driving of another?

Driving is just one of many situations where we might feel obliged to intervene. Other situations can arise at work or in usual activities.  In such situations we expect the person to make major changes in the way they do things. Intervene in Things such as stopping driving. These changes will not be popular.

How might we intervene without becoming unpopular?

The problem of confronting someone with bad news is hard. We fear becoming the focus of any anger associated with the message. We easily get trapped by such anger. Communication experts suggest that one start such conversations by saying such things as, “When I see you do such and such, I get scared that something bad will happen,” and then making a request for the change we would like to see.

By starting this way we first express our need. That means we have opened ourselves and expressed our pain. That usually elicits a desire in others to help.  Such desire can easily get lost when we start with the request. We have not exposed our personal pain. Most people don’t want to hurt others, so they hesitate to get angry at a hurting person.  The conversation now revolves around the problem and not feelings.

Such approaches can be used in the workplace as well.  When dealing with a friend or family member it is easier. In the workplace legal and economic consequences exist. In either situation resources exist. I will talk about options when dealing with a disability in future blogs.  Today, how have you confronted someone else’s disability? Do you have experiences or other ideas?

I appreciate comments and your sharing this blog with others.

As All Ways, Seek Joy,

Coach Dr. Dave,

Author of the forthcoming book, “Recipes for Lemonade (Thriving through Disability): Dr. Dave’s Personal Recipe”


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