The Six Main “Do”s And “Don’t”s Of Talking To An Amputee

Don’t get too personal. It is totally okay to talk to people about their disabilities, but don’t be pushy about it. Honestly, a good rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t ask an able-bodied stranger something so personal, it’s probably a good indication that you shouldn’t ask an amputee either.

Don’t say, ‘But you can’t do that’, or, ‘are you sure you can that?’ People living with limb loss are very adaptable. It’s best not to assume they’re incapable of doing a task, such as learning an instrument or running a marathon, until they have tried. That being said, don’t assume every amputee wants to run a marathon or compete in the Paralympics, either.

Do let the person help themselves. If you see an amputee struggling with their wheelchair or to pick up something they dropped, don’t jump right in to help. It’s better to ask the person if they need help and allow them the opportunity to decline your offer.

Don’t ask to try on their prosthetic legs/hands. Because that’s rude, and it won’t fit you anyway.

Avoid saying, ‘You’re such an inspiration’ or, ‘Good for you’. While it’s a kind gesture, some amputees may find it patronizing. Honestly, many amputees, myself included, don’t consider themselves disadvantaged because they’re missing a limb.

Do let your kiddos ask questions. Instead of avoiding the conversation, answer your curious kiddos’ questions about the person with the amputation – or allow them to ask the person directly, as long as it’s appropriate. It is also a good opportunity for you to discuss the differences between all people in the world.

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