Alisha’s story

Because I have an electric wheelchair that’s quite big, people think more about the chair and the size rather than me as a person. People feel scared of my wheelchair. But I would like to ask, ‘why do you feel that way? Why do your kids feel scared or worried, what specifically is it about?’ I want people to just talk to me properly instead of ignoring me.

Being overlooked is something I often experience. For example, a nurse recently asked me questions about my health, but waited for my Step Nan to answer. On another occasion, I went to an event for work and the speakers asked for audience answers and questions. I raised my hand to speak. No one called on me until my carer also raised their hand – I felt ignored and disempowered.

I want the world to treat me equally. To see I am a person with dreams and aspirations and desires…

…and yes, I do have sex! People assume that disabled people don’t have sex. It can make dating weird too. I recently got a message from someone on an app and their first message to me was ‘I’ve always wanted to get with someone in a wheelchair.’ I’m not a bucket list for them to tick off.

Still, when I talk about stuff like this with people it’s frustrating when they worry more because they see you as a more vulnerable dater. I want people to laugh and be shocked with me, not protect me.

It’s such a sliding scale of help that you get from the public. Some people will unnecessarily offer to do my washing up then at other times I am ignored, like when I am trying to get medications. I don’t like being patronised. I once entered a talent competition but felt I was only awarded a trophy because I am disabled, not because I was really the winner.

I believe in opening up a two-way conversation, not worrying about offending people all the time. When you have a disability, you yourself are educating and learning for yourself too on how you feel and how you want others to interact.