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  • Writer's pictureThabo Baseki

Striking a Balance: Respecting Abilities While Offering Support to People with Disabilities

The picture shows a small wooden plank, resting on a spring. On one end of the plank is a large ball. On the opposite end of the plank are three smaller balls. The plank is perfectly balanced, reflecting the balance needed when interacting with people.

People with disabilities often face challenges in their daily lives, but they also have strengths and abilities that deserve respect and recognition. Sometimes, well-meaning people may show unwarranted sympathy to a person with disability, which can make them feel inferior or helpless. On the other hand, some people may offer genuine help or support to a person with disability, which can make them feel valued and empowered. How can you make a balance between these two approaches?


  • One possible way is to ask the person with disability if they need or want any assistance before offering it. This can show respect for their autonomy and dignity and avoid making assumptions about their capabilities or needs.

  • Another possible way is to focus on the person's strengths and achievements, rather than their limitations or challenges. This can show appreciation for their individuality and potential and avoid stereotyping or pitying them.

  • A third possible way is to treat the person with a disability as an equal and a friend, rather than as a charity case or a burden. This can show kindness and empathy and avoid creating a power imbalance or a sense of obligation.


What can we take home with us? By making a balance between showing unnecessary pity and offering genuine help, you can foster positive and meaningful relationships with people with disabilities. You can also learn from their experiences and perspectives and enrich your own lives in the process.


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