This was one of my very first posts on my old site, it still applies today and still a good lesson to learn.
Being a person with two disabilities I've grown up with "gawkers". You know the type, people that just have to stop what they're doing and stare at you.
It's a fact of life for people with different disabilities. Whether you're Deaf, Blind, in a wheelchair, a little person, missing a limb, or have scars - you've lived with being stared at.
The majority of them are children, with their natural curosity for life, stare at people who are different and "new" to them. But because their parents hush them and turn them away from us, they learn that "being different" must be "Bad and Awful". So begins the cycle of ignorance which sometimes leads to discrimination.
Why do we "gawk"? It's a natural response to look closer at something that we've rarely seen that we'd want to "burn it to memory" in case we'd never see it again. Oh come on! Don't tell me you've never stared at another human being before! Ever stared at some heavily tattooed person with 200 piercings walking by? How about the "well endowed" woman on the beach in a skinny bikini? Ever grumbled about why the traffic is so slow up ahead, approach the scene of the accident, then slow down yourself so you can look at the car wreck yourself??
Come-on! We've all done it!
The difference is what do you do about it? If you're curious then just approach the person and ask questions, I know I'll appreciate the opportunity to "educate" someone than tolerating the "lost deer in headlights look". If the individual is comfortable "in their skin" (meaning they've accepted themselves as differently-abled), they'll be willing to share their life story with you. Then you'll leave with better understanding of different people who are woven into the fabric of life.
But there are some individuals who a) have not accepted themselves; and/or b) believe that their "problems" are everyone elses' except their own. Sad but true. They will lash out at anyone staring at them. What do we do with these people? Ignore them? Scream at them? No, we just need to be patient. These people are still working out their "inner demons", whether they're angry at their disability or angry at others for causing their disability (real or imagined).
All things considered, it still isn't polite to stare! ASK! We'll both come away learning something new.
Don't forget to think your question through....or you'll end up in another edition of my "Are you THAT Clueless" blog post. :)
"One finds limits by pushing them" ~ Herbert Simon