Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Developing Specialist Skills

Speak to someone who acquired a disability and has had it for a few years, and there's a good chance they'll be keen to make sure you know it's not all bad. In fact, those of us who are a bit more... excitable... about the whole disability/equality issues "thing" (I include myself in this group) have perhaps a bit too much propensity to shove a firework of Positive Empowered Attitude up the backside of anyone suspected of misplaced sympathy or tragic admiration.

Part of this is sometimes to assert that you have learned things or gone places or met people that you wouldn't have done had it not been for your cripdom. But all too often these are either speculative (who's to say you wouldn't have met your wonderful partner if you'd remained walkie-talkie? who's to say you wouldn't have met someone else just as wonderful?), hard to quantify (how do you measure insight?), or irrelevant to a nondisabled audience (wheelchair breakdancing is impressive, but doesn't really connect for someone who's never used a wheelchair themselves).

But finally, today, I realised I had a definite, quantifiable skill, born of my disability and yet noticed and envied by a nondisabled person - my PA, who gazed at me with a baffled yet admiring look and asked "how do you DO that?"

I can shop. I can shop fast and yet I rarely have anything that I regret buying once I've got it home. I can spot a "possible" item from across the store, and once I'm closer I can very quickly assess whether it meets my requirements and whether I think it is worth the price on the tag. If yes, then I'll buy it (except in the case of clothes, which I still insist on trying on first - but only for fit, I'm always confident about whether or not it will suit me). If no, I'll put it down and forget about it.

It's probably a combination of all sorts of things, for example not wanting to waste my precious three hours by faffing about, not wanting to spend more spoons than I have to on any given activity, and having had the same tastes and 'style' for years. If wandering around the shops and trying on clothes was still a pain-free activity, I'd probably be doing a lot more of it. Disability has stopped me dithering.

Admittedly it is not a skill that will save the world - most things don't. But it's a knack I'm pleased to have developed.


Carie @ Space for the Butterflies said...

Sounds like a great skill - I hope you were buying something nice

Mary said...

1x purple everyday handbag (the zip on my current one keeps getting stuck).

1x new set of bedlinen. Hardest part was finding a 100% cotton fitted sheet to go with it (why do sets only get sold as duvet cover and 2 pillowcases?). Yes, I know that's really fussy of me. And I was probably looking in the wrong shops.

Steve says I am learning man-shopping, minimising on time and fuss. I say no, I still care what things look like.

Supermouse said...

I've learned to ask for help and to say no, both skills I've seen able people bemoan the lack of.

I have a king sized bed and superking duvet, both sized so Pol and I can actually *share* the bed now and then, so I buy separately, but even then I wonder why on earth there's no sheet included. If there was though, I bet it would be flat and not fitted.

unuffied: the state of not having recently had to sort anything out in a limited timescale