Struggling to Explain Your Disability to Family? Here’s a Disability Attorney’s Advice
Addressing a disability can be tough when you’re trying to define it for the Social Security Administration, even with the help of a professional disability attorney. But a part of living with a disability that isn’t often talked about it is how to talk about it with family. It might seem like it’s easy to be open and honest with your family and to rely on them for support. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.
Many people have a lack of understanding of disabilities and struggle to know how to behave around someone who has one — even if they’re close friends or family. At RGG Law, our professional disability lawyers and disability attorneys understand that this is a very personal problem that many people don’t expect. We’re offering some general advice on ways you can talk to your family to help them understand your disability.
Don’t Pretend the Disability Doesn’t Exist
One of the biggest mistakes you can make in any relationship — whether it’s in a relationship, a friendship or with family members — is to deny a problem exists. While we’re not saying the disability itself is a “problem”, trying to pretend it doesn’t exist very much makes it one.
Some people, particularly from certain backgrounds or older generations, tend toward simply ignoring a disability. Avoidance like this isn’t a healthy approach and often perpetuates the stigma around disability. Make sure your family understands that it’s okay to talk about it or ask questions — especially if they’re young children who have been told not to mention it.
Don’t Make It a Defining Feature
The opposite end of the spectrum to avoiding mentioning a disability at all costs is to make too much of an issue of it. Even when done with good intentions, family members going out of their way to accommodate a disability when it isn’t necessary can come across as patronizing, which is frustrating to deal with when you have a disability.
Another thing to discuss with your family and close friends or partner is how your disability affects you, the specifics of how it changes your day-to-day life, and any changes you or they will need to make. Remember, if you do have family members who are less familiar with your disability, try not to be offended if their way of showing you they care seems a bit much.
Terminology relating to disabilities can be really hard to keep up with. What makes it worse is that many outdated terms have since been adopted as slurs or insults by smaller-minded people, while those who remember those terms being the standard might use them being unaware that they’re causing offense.
The solution here is two-fold — and it can be challenging. Firstly, you should learn to recognize when an outdated, potentially offensive term is being used innocently or as an insult. Secondly, you need to explain why the term is no longer the one used, and what makes it offensive.
The best disability attorneys understand that one of the core principles of helping those with disabilities is respect. Having a disability doesn’t make a difference to the worth of a person. It also doesn’t make them incapable of anything other than what their disability directly impacts. Respect is something that both your family should have for you, and you for them.
Your family and friends should respect that your disability doesn’t define you, while you should respect that they may have a hard time understanding it. Through respect, you’ll learn how to communicate and help each other. Strong family relationships and friendships are an important part of everyone’s life and will give you an important support network.
Professional, Understanding Disability Attorneys
This is just some general advice on ways you can approach this topic. It’s important to remember that every family is different. Certain things are going to depend on the kind of disability you have, as well as the relationship you have with your family.
If you need professional advice and guidance on your Social Security application, contact a disability attorney at RGG Law. With years of experience dealing with Social Security claims, our disability attorneys and lawyers are ready to give you the support you need.