Extreme Abilities

You're only as limited as you allow yourself to be


Adaptive Surfer, motivator, pioneer and differently abled trendsetter, 


In this blog, Extreme Abilities CEO and  T8 complete paraplegic shares his view of the world from the perspective of living life in a wheelchair, paralyzed from his chest down. Follow Dries Millard and read his exclusive blog on how exactly someone who is paralyzed can be independent and active like he is.


Different Perspective

So everything in life is about perspective. How you look at things, how other people think (or not think) you look at things and how you think other people look at things and then of course, how other people áctually look at things. Perspective. Not something most people even consider as something relevant to think about cos it’s so easy to get caught up in your own world, each of us struggling to maintain our priorities. This can sometimes blind us to the priorities of others. It happens; life moves fast and waits for no one. That’s what most would say anyway. For me, it’s a different story. From my perspective I’m forced to not only maintain my priorities, but I need to consider others in order to preserve myself. Weird way of looking at it, so let me explain.

Now, imagine you go to the shopping mall, park your car and as you are about to open your door; someone jerks it open for you and reaches in grabbing your hand. Your first instinct would probably be to scream and tell the guy off, but then the guy says “come, let me help you get out”. Weird, right? Why would someone offer to help you get out of the car? Well you obviously don’t need any help so you politely tell the guy it’s not needed. But then guy doesn’t go away, no. He stands right there staring at you as you get out. Now,  it’s starting to become really creepy. Why does he just stand there staring? Maybe he wants something. So you quickly get out and move off, but before you can start walking the guy grabs your arm, puts it over his shoulder and says “here let me help you”.  This would probably irritate anyone on a good day.

For me, this is a daily reality. When someone sees my wheelchair, my independence and dignity is instantly shattered and ignored for the sake of someone else’s sense of good will. It’s an instant trigger in people. They see a wheelchair and then it’s decided that wheelchair signals help. Regardless of the person in the wheelchair. So take that entire scenario and look at it from my perspective. I load my chair daily multiple times. If I ask you how many times you got in and out of the car this week, you wouldn’t even know, why would you? Its daily routine, second nature. Now it’s the same for me, my wheelchair is an extension of myself, its part of who I am and I’m really comfortable with who I am. So how do you tell someone that it’s actually rude to impose on my personal space, take away my independence and assume you are saving my dignity in the same process by ‘helping’ me take out my wheelchair? From the other guys perspective, he is helping a poor person in a wheelchair. From my perspective this guy is wasting my time ‘caus now he has grabbed my wheelchair half way through the assembly process despite my clear request not to touch my wheelchair. So while the guy is dumbly trying to figure out how the quick release wheels clip in to the chair, I’m patiently trying to maintain my cool, I could’ve been done by now, but no, this guy insists on helping me. See, it’s nice to think that people still go out of their way to help others, but after the fifth guy tries to help me in the same day, my patience is on the cusp of throwing bricks at people.

The greatest harm can result from the best intentions. Disability is a disability because there is a the lack in understanding regarding others perspectives. I am differently abled. Not disabled. I’m fortunate enough to have realised this, but my heart breaks to think of all the other people that have to endure the help of others and are denied their own abilities purely because they operate with a different skillset, a skillset that will never be developed. Before you help someone, consider why that person is where he/she is and if there is the slightest inclination that help is not needed, don’t force it. Independence is so important and by taking that away from someone the damage can be irreparable . Differently abled is not a disability, lack of understanding is the real disability.

ExtremeDries - 23:45 @ Wheelchair Life, Being Paralyzed, The gift that never stops giving | 3 comments

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Weekend Surf Report

Tune in to Radio Namakwaland every Friday just past 13:30 and listen to Dries Millard live, giving you the West Coast weekend surf report. Follow link for live online streaming.

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