Children And Electric Wheelchair Etiquette 101

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Electric wheelchairs provide freedom and freedom of movement for everyone that owns and uses one. When people are out in public in their wheelchairs, you might have an overly inquisitive child that wants to know more. Here is how you can answer your child's questions without being rude or encouraging your child's less-than-tactful behavior.

Answer the Questions to Which You Already Know the Answers

Usually, the first question a child has when he or she sees someone tooling around in an electric wheelchair is, "Why is that person in a wheelchair?" The younger the child, the easier it is to answer because the child will be satisfied with a simple answer such as "The person cannot walk and needs the chair to help move." If your child wants to know more about either the wheelchair or the person, you can provide him or her with the knowledge you already have on either subject (e.g., the chair runs on electricity and uses a big battery, the person may have been born without the use of his or her legs, etc.).

Politely Ask the Wheelchair's Owner If He/She Is Willing to Answer Your Child's Questions

Some people do not mind answering a child's questions, knowing that children are overly curious and that providing children with answers encourages understanding and kindness. If you are very polite when you ask, the person in the chair may still decline that information, as is his or her right, but he or she may also choose to answer a couple of your child's questions. If the owner of the chair chooses to answer, then remember to profusely thank him or her for his/her time and willingness to share information.

DO NOT Allow Your Child to Play with the Chair's Controls

Some of the electric wheelchairs on the market have very sensitive controls or the controls are set up in such a way that only the chair's owner can use them. Remind your child to look, but do not touch. If your child cannot resist the urge to play with the joystick-styled control on a wheelchair armrest, it is time to go and that the person and his or her electric wheelchair is not a toy for your child's amusement. (Additionally, if your child sees an electric wheelchair without its owner, your child should not get in it and attempt to drive it or ride away with it.)

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