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'Helping' a wheelchair user

(70 Posts)
longtompot Tue 05-Mar-19 21:35:35

I had a very upset dd on the phone earlier today. She is away at uni, and was seeing her gf off at the train station before heading back to her halls. She was halfway up a steep hill, which is a challenge but she has managed fine before, stopped for a drink and was just starting to wheel back up there again when suddenly someone behind her grabbed the handles on her wheelchair and started to push her. She shouted at him to not touch her so he started shouting back at her and swore at her before walking off up the hill. She was really shaken up, and annoyed with herself that she didn't taken her handles off (she keeps them in a pocket just in case).
I guess my AIBU is, is it unreasonable for people to ask a wheelchair user if they would like some help? You wouldn't just grab some shopping bags off someone walking along because they look like they are struggling. You would ask if that person needed help.
She was also a bit shaken up because, despite shouting at him to not touch her, people walking past looked but no one came to her help.
I hate her being away and so vulnerable sad

HennyPennyHorror Tue 05-Mar-19 21:38:01

Some people are dickheads. Tell her to forget him...he may have learned a lesson.

Don't hate her being's better than her being reliant on you and not living a full life.

TrickyKid Tue 05-Mar-19 21:42:45

He should've asked but some people just don't know it's not the right thing to do. The only time I've asked is when j could see a man was clearly struggling to get off the road onto the pavement and his chair kept bouncing back. Unfortunately he couldn't speak clearly enough for me to understand his response but appeard to be thankful that I helped. I think just randomly helping someone that doesn't appear to need help is wrong but I'm sure he meant well.

Hedgehogblues Tue 05-Mar-19 21:45:18

It's fine to ask but they should respect it if the wheelchair user says no. It's not ok to just start pushing.

ColeHawlins Tue 05-Mar-19 21:52:45

It's not just a faux pas. You can't just tell her to "forget it"(as someone suggested). It's akin to someone just picking you up in the street and starting to march off with you. She must be very shaken. A stranger grabbing your chair is a nightmare.

I always carry hairspray. Or chilli oil spray. Or both. Buy her one of each and make sure she's prepared to use them. It's horrible when they're so far away and something happens. thanks

(I can't make it around Waitrose self propelling , so am impressed with steep hills.)

Topseyt Tue 05-Mar-19 21:55:10

Not OK at all for him to just start pushing. He ought to have asked her whether or not she needed or wanted any help and accepted her response.

He must have made your DD feel rather vulnerable. I suppose she couldn't be sure where he was going to take her. Scary, even if he was trying to be helpful.

He was inconsiderate.

Bacardi101 Tue 05-Mar-19 21:58:41

I’m a wheelchair user and I hate it when this happens which ridiculously is more often than people think. It does make me feel very vulnerable as I can do nothing to stop them and I always panic. Sorry your DD went through this today unfortunately there are some arseholes in this world even if he did think he was trying to help!

ShihTzup Tue 05-Mar-19 22:00:21

It’s totally utterly not ok to push a wheelchair without the permission of the person sitting in it.

Apart from all the reasons above, you also risk mangling the wheelchair user's fingers if they happen to be reaching down to self propel at the same time. Or tipping them over etc if you interfere with their balance or a shift in position.

I’ve had it happen to me and I was fucking livid. Still cross about it, and it was years ago now.

Kittykat93 Tue 05-Mar-19 22:01:05

God I can't imagine ever thinking it's ok to grab somebody's wheelchair and push them without permission, especially a complete stranger! How disrespectful.

Henrysmycat Tue 05-Mar-19 22:01:49

I’ve learnt not to do that. It removes people's independence and makes them feel vulnerable.
Best is to ask, if the answer is “yes, I’d like some help” then you ask what you can do and take their lead.
I’m sorry OP about what happened to your DD.

kalinkafoxtrot45 Tue 05-Mar-19 22:05:33

I live across the street from a residence where a number of wheelchair users live. Sometimes people need a bit of help, especially when it’s icy - but heaven’s sake, you always ASK! Your DD must have been so shaken.

BusySnipingOnCallOfDuty Tue 05-Mar-19 22:06:57

I know it shouldnt be needed in the first place, but is it aorth laminating a notice to stick on the back of the chair saying its ok, ive got this, but if you think i havent then please ASK me

ColeHawlins Tue 05-Mar-19 22:08:51

* I know it shouldnt be needed in the first place, but is it aorth laminating a notice to stick on the back of the chair saying its ok, ive got this, but if you think i havent then please ASK me*

Good idea.

Or simply "Do NOT touch the handles!!"

pastabest Tue 05-Mar-19 22:09:36

People who do this aren't trying to be kind. If they were trying to be kind they would have treated her like luggage.

It's a power/virtue signalling thing.

On a far lesser scale I recently had a young gentleman step aside (very purposefully) to let me past in a supermarket aisle. There was plenty of room for us to pass without either of us to have to move and it was completely unnecessary, so unnecessary that I didn't even realise he had moved over especially for me until he sarcastically said 'you're welcome'.

I eyerolled.

pastabest Tue 05-Mar-19 22:10:34

wouldn't have treated her like luggage effing autocorrect.

Booboostwo Tue 05-Mar-19 22:11:27

That is really awful, your poor DD. I cannot imagine why anyone would think that was an appropriate way to be helpful. Helping has to be helpful!

SrSteveOskowski Tue 05-Mar-19 22:13:35

YANBU OP, what he did is completely wrong. He should have asked if your DD needed any help, not just grabbed her chair and manhandled it.
I hope your DD is okay.

MustBeAWeasly Tue 05-Mar-19 22:15:28

That's shocking! And to start shouting at her aftwards aswell! I would never just presume I could touch someone's chair without asking if they needed me to

Can I ask any wheelchair users if stopping to ask her if she needed help would be welcomed or be taken as slightly patronising? As presumably she's quite capable at getting round herself

ColeHawlins Tue 05-Mar-19 22:16:46

I wouldn't mind being asked @MustBeAWeasly but personally I wouldn't let a stranger push me unless in an emergency.

QuestionableMouse Tue 05-Mar-19 22:18:58

Do not give her hairspray or chilli oil to use. Someone could quite easily take it off her and use it against her. @ColeHawlins that's terrible advice to give and I hope you're joking.

SemperIdem Tue 05-Mar-19 22:20:19

Yanbu to feel upset.

It would never occur to me to touch a wheelchair users wheelchair without asking them.

As a pp said, that’s akin to picking someone up and trying to carry them off to “help”.

Hope your daughter is ok.

ColeHawlins Tue 05-Mar-19 22:24:31

It's what I do @QuestionableMouse and it makes me feel safer. I suppose a lot of the benefit is psychological but the reality is that most people who might attack you when you use mobility aids are stronger than you anyway. So 🤷🏻‍♀️. They can't control my chair and fight me for the spray at the same time.

anniehm Tue 05-Mar-19 22:25:16

It's never ok to just grab the handles (unless an emergency like it freewheeling down a steep road which I've seen) however it is ok to ask if someone needs hope.

NiceNewShiny Tue 05-Mar-19 22:30:55

OP, YANBU (but pretty sure you knew that already)

HennyPennyHorror Tue 05-Mar-19 22:36:59

Cole really? You'd spray someone with chilli spray for mistakenly "helping" without asking??

Obviously if someone's attacking you then that's fine but a mistaken, well meant gesture??

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