Standing On One Leg

3 07 2012

A few weeks ago, Yair and I attended the Austin Symphony and sat next to a man with a prosthetic leg.  The natural reaction of a child to our neighbor might have been to stare and to begin asking questions.  The natural reaction of an adult might have been to “politely” ignore the difference and look the other way.

Much to my mortification, Yair opted for the first approach and jumped in with: “Hi!  Can I ask you some questions about your leg?”

I was momentarily horrified, but soon stood corrected as we quickly developed an incredible conversation with the man next to us.  I climbed over Yair so that I could be the one asking the questions and – during the course of the evening – we learned about what had happened, how he adjusted, the hardest part, the technology of a prosthetic leg and how that technology has changed over time.

On Two Legs: Ready for this Weekend's Light-Up Longhorn Circus Extravaganza

On Two Legs: Ready for this Weekend’s Light-Up Longhorn Circus Extravaganza

Our new friend David’s poise and sense of humor was incredible.  He shared with us that a group of children once ran over to him to ask where his other leg went.  A moment later, a girl said “Okay, now everyone stand on one foot!”  Sure enough, the entire group stood on one foot and they all began hopping – including David.

Kids often don’t realize how they are “supposed to act”, but most adults still don’t know how to act and feel uncomfortable in these situations.

Our Friend's Beautifully-Decorated Prosthesis

Our Friend’s Beautifully Decorated Prosthesis

This encounter inspired me to envision and create a Disabilities Awareness Forum in Austin this October.  The event would provide a forum to learn about differences instead of ignoring them and my goals would be several-fold:

  • To empower those with disabilities to speak and share their stories
  • To practice thoughtful and respectful conversation, and enhance communication skills
  • To offer a learning opportunity for adults, but also for children and parents
  • To create a way to bring together our community to focus on the unity of our experience as Austinites

Getting local government and non-profit partners on board for this event and being the linchpin organizer has been more time-consuming than I thought it would be, but hopefully the outcome will be worth it!

posted by ayo

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4 responses

3 07 2012
roamingbarbara

You are so right. I’ve often thought everyone would be more comfortable if a ‘difference’ was brought out in the open instead of ignored. But I could never do it. Also interesting that it was Yair and not you who opened the subject. With the influx of soldier amputees, we all need to become more comfortable with the situation.

8 07 2012
ayo

Very true. Though I guess people tend toward politeness because you never know if someone will feel comfortable having a difference called out.

4 07 2012
Carol

What a great idea! Wish we were going to be back in Austin this fall to participate…

8 07 2012
ayo

We’ll Skype you in! 🙂

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