The Assistive Technology it Took Me 30 Years to Purchase


Sometimes, I have to laugh when I tell people that I write for a company that sells adaptive equipment. You see, despite having a disability and despite the wide variety of items in existence that help people just like me, I don’t usually buy these items. Sure I have a wheelchair, a pair of crutches and grab bars in my shower, but beyond that, my house is pretty much void of any disability- specific items.

See, I was raised in a household where if you could do it, you should do it, even if it is hard. This prevented me from getting a wheelchair until tenth grade; even as in adult it has kept me from purchasing certain items that would make daily tasks easier. I tell myself, “you don’t need that, you can do it the way you always have.” This is silly, especially since I have purchase plenty of non-disability specific items over the years that make things easier. The decision to NOT purchase certain items was subconscious, and it wasn’t until I got my new job that I even realized I was doing it.

When my job asked me if I need anything in the office to accommodate my disability, the only thing I mentioned was needing enough space for my chair. Then, one day after starting my job, I dropped a number of things and had to keep asking my boss to pick them up. After the sixth time of interrupting him to retrieve a dropped item, I realized that a reacher might be in order.

A reacher is one of those items I have never considered before, despite the fact that I drop things rather frequently. I drop things so often; in fact, I trained my dog to pick them up. However, I don’t bring my dog to work, so I requested a reacher. It was waiting on my desk when I returned the next day and within minutes I realized how completely silly it was that I had never bought one before.

Now that I have used a reacher at work, I decided I will purchase one for my home, There are plenty of things I drop at home that my dog cannot, or will not, retrieve; such as pins, blocks for my quilts, and silverware. A reacher would mean that I don’t have to get down onto my hands and knees or wait for my husband to help.

If there are any of you, like me, who have spent years actively avoiding purchasing adaptive equipment, whether it is because you are ashamed, convinced you do just fine without it, or any other reason, I urge you to reconsider. I am all about independence and keeping the mobility you have, but I’ve realized I have been wasting a lot of time and energy for no reason. Using a reacher, or any other assistive device, is not a failure, it does not make me less independent or self-reliant. In fact, it increases my independence.

So go ahead and try that item. Whether it is a reacher, a cane, an adapted cup or any other item that might help you in your day to day tasks, it won’t hurt to see how many new doors will open with your new found level of independence.

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