Younger people with canes - a list of protocols


Hi everyone! Today we’re going to talk about cane users, and things you should/shouldn’t do around them!

Being a cane user (having graduated from a wheelchair, to arm crutches, to this) myself, I deal with a lot. I can’t use both hands to carry things. I often take stairs a little slower than everyone else. I make several trips. I start out to destinations extra early.

I was born with extremely poor alignment in my legs, leaving the tendons and muscles in my knees to cope with this and suffer a lot of damage. Additionally, I suffer from a blood disease that has weakened my body significantly, giving me balance and stability issues that recently have peaked due to the increase in physical activity required from attending college.

I want to go over a few things people should do around persons with canes - especially younger folk with canes.

The Do’s

  • If you see a cane user struggling, offer to help them! Sometimes, we just need a little extra help, whether it’s getting that package through the door or negotiating our food tray back to our seat.
  • Pick up the cane when they drop it if you have closer access to it than them. I have anxiety so when I drop my cane I immediately freeze up, going into overdrive and clutching the nearest thing to me for fear of falling.
  • Slow down for them a little. If you are walking in a group with a cane user, be aware that they may have a little trouble keeping up. I can haul ass when I want to, but it’s not painless or energy efficient.
  • Be aware. If you know a cane user is near you, be careful with your own body and items that you don’t disturb their balance or their cane.
  • Be polite. Don’t stare or ask questions, even if they look like they don’t need a cane or are too young to have one.

The Don’ts

  • Don’t ask questions. If they want to tell you, they will. I’m tired of explaining to complete strangers that no accident happened, that I simply have really messed up legs.
  • Don’t constantly offer help. It is one thing to lend a hand when it looks like it’s needed, but another to act like the cane user is a complete invalid. 
  • Don’t grab their cane. I don’t know why I have to put this on here, but whether they are standing or sitting do not take a cane user’s cane away from them. I rely on that to get around. Don’t be a jerk.
  • Don’t insist on helping if they turn it down. We know our limits, and can usually get around fine on our own. I personally am really shy so I have trouble accepting help from strangers. Insistence only furthers my anxiety about it.
  • Don’t stare. It may be odd to see a young person with a cane, but when you stare you can make them feel even more othered than having a cane already does.

Feel free to add to this if you think of something else! This is just a quick list I developed from my experience.

(ok to reblog)