“Please don’t touch me!!!”

Words that you thought you may or should never have to say. “Please don’t touch me.” Have you had to say it to someone? Have you felt like saying it to someone? Has a stranger ever reached out and touched you?

When I’m with a client, people have all sorts of reactions and judgment’s on their faces, that I can usually read. Every once in a while, people will reach out and touch my client, most times on the face, the most intimate place to be touched in some cases. Sometimes it’s family members, friends, teachers…strangers, on the ttc or out in the community. Yes, people, that my client doesn’t know, reach out to touch him or her.

Something you may not know about me, I’m a mama bear. I protect those kids and young adults like my own when their with me, to the core of my being. If someone get’s in the way of that, my claws come out and I pounce. So, when we are out having a good time, I do just that, have a good time. But, if someone gets in the way of that good time, it is not a good thing, for them. I do have tact, and have learned to see it from another person side. But, make sure to advocate for my client and get that person to see it from their side, which is hard!

When people have reached out to touch my client, grab their chair (because they think I don’t have it, which I always do), point or ask rude questions, I take that time to hear them, tell them why it’s is wrong and teach them from my clients perspective. I have brushed people’s hands away, or got in between a person and my client, that is the aggressive part. My first duty is toward my client and if I don’t want a stranger reaching in to touch me, I know my client doesn’t either.

Some of my clients are visually and/or hearing impaired, so can’t see people coming. They are all in wheelchairs, so they are lower and may not know who’s reaching in. And a lot of the time, they get scared or startled. I once had a homeless man kiss my client on the cheek, before I could reach in, it was super scary and my client was wide eyed and frightened. Or, I have a friend who uses a scooter and sometimes when in a mall and putting her coat on, it looks so awkward to someone else that they reach in and help her with her jacket. No words, walk up behind her, help and walk away silently. In their heads “I helped that lady out.” In my friends head, “who the hell was that?”

So, what do I teach people in these encounters after pushing their hands away, letting them know their touch isn’t wanted or that they can’t reach into someone’s lap. I will say things like, “please shake hands” or “cue my client to say hi” and explain that you may have scared him or her if you touched them, because they didn’t see you coming. Sometimes it is super aggressive and I am equally aggressive in that I will redirect the person and ignore them with after handing them a strong stare and a quick message of un-appreciation.

I am still learning to let people help, and be kind to those that are just trying to be kind. I will let people know acceptable ways to approach people in general, what is appreciated and what is not. Giving people the opportunity to spread their happiness onto my client and myself and vice-versa. However, if you want to help someone, you have to offer, use your words. If your help is turned down. don’t feel bad, people who have disabilities or caregivers and just used to doing it all themselves. And sometimes, just sometimes, your help isn’t needed and you have to respect that!

DSW

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