When to offer help to a someone

a pink post it not with "ask for help" next to a yellow tea cup and saucer and glasses

Over the last year, I have been delivering disability awareness to young people on a Princes Trust programme. At nearly every session, I was asked “when is it okay to ask a disabled person if they would like help?” This is a very personal question and one which is hard to answer. I have been brought up to just try everything, so asking for help is not really on my radar – I just manage (I don’t always know how, but I do!).

When I was younger, I used to spend hours trying to do things for myself. My family encouraged me to try everything and find ways of adapting things. It was very rare that I was ever offered help. I liked it this way – without that, I wouldn’t be able to do as much as I can today.

As I have grown older, I have come to realise it is okay to ask for help.  I am not always sure what to ask for help on, but I know that I can, if I want to. Due to having a stammer, it is sometimes even a struggle to ask the question, so it is easier to do it on my own, much to the annoyance of other people!  

Going back to the original question, it is fine to ask if someone would like help, but don’t be disappointed if the offer is turned down. This is nothing to do with you and is most likely the mental toughness of the other person. I have had several experiences where people want, and feel obliged to help me, but in all honesty, I am fine and coping well. The tips I gave to the young people at the Princes Trust were:

  • never expect your offer of help to be accepted
  • make sure you don’t overpower the disabled person
  • only offer help once
  • remember the disabled person knows what is best for them

It has been strange for me to write this blog. It has made me realise how far I have come since being a child, but it has also allowed me to think about how much I accept help now. Living on my own, there are things that I cannot do which are expected. Having parents that encouraged me so much to try things for myself, it is sometimes hard to accept that when they visit, they take it upon themselves to go around the house and garden finding jobs to do! It is comforting to know they are still able to help me, but it is also very frustrating at times, as I think I can manage fine.

It is odd that I find some of the simplest tasks the hardest to do, and the hard tasks can be the easiest to do. For example, years ago I had a guinea pig and its run outside needed fixing. It needed some simple nails or screws putting in, so I took it upon myself to fix it one weekend. I spent quite a lot of time trying to work out how to hold a nail, and hammer it in at the same time, with one hand. After some considerable thought, I decided that my toes were the most sensible option. There I was in the middle of the garden with no shoes or socks on and nails between my toes. I am pleased to say that the run got fixed and I suffered no injury! Unbeknown to me, my next door neighbour had been watching and after I had finished, he came out and said well-done, but wouldn’t it have been simpler to ask for his help? In hindsight yes, but in my mind, no!

So, in summary, don’t be afraid to ask anyone if they would like help, but do not be disappointed or upset if it is declined. 

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