My parents stopped to take me to dinner the other day on their way home from visiting my grandma, as I'm not at all out of the way. We decided to go someplace new to them, someplace I hadn't been in about 4 or 5 years. Right as we pulled into one of the accessible spots a minivan pulled into the other one. I watched as an older lady and a PA got a manual wheelchair out of the trunk. For those of you who don't know, I check out chairs like some people check out cars. It was a very crappy chair, which was obviously custom (a shame... If you're going to go through insurance approval and all...) as the frame was blue, and it was an Invacare. I didn't notice if it was a foldable chair or a rigid frame as I was concentrating on getting out of the car, but as it had swing away foot rests and a sling back I imagine it was foldable. I didn't get a chance to see the wheelchair user.
We went into the restaurant and got seated, and they came in right after and got seated diagonal from us. I checked out the woman in the chair, who must have been in her 40s. "Why isn't she in a powerchair," I thought? I'm not sure if she has CP or if she had a TBI or a stroke when she was too old to have it classified as CP, (when babies have strokes they call it CP) but I imagine she has CP, and regardless would be perfectly capable of handling a joystick.
As soon as the three of them got settled, the woman turned to the person who seated them, and asked him what his name is. "My name is Wendy, she said in perfectly understandable "CP speech," if you know what I mean. "I'm very happy you're here." To which he replied, "I'm very happy you're here."
She repeated this exchange as soon as the waitress showed up, even before she had a chance to say anything, and again when another restaurant staff showed up.
Hmmm... I thought. What a clever idea. I also noticed out of the corner of my eye that her PA had put on a bib. I'm sure being in your 40s and wearing a bib, coupled with the fact that you're being pushed by a PA wearing scrubs (ICK! if I had a PA I'd make them wear jeans to go out to eat) often if not always puts her in a situation where she's ignored. Where people look at the people she's with as if she's not even there and ask them what she would like to eat. Although my CP is significant enough that there's no way I'd ever pass, I seldom find myself in this situation, and found it to be a great way to break down a frustrating communication barrier... which leaves me wondering if any of you use this strategy or a similar one? Just curious...