I was in a prayer circle last week when it happened. The fellow standing next to me referred to my disability as a "weirdness in your arms" and asked whether "we are allowed to touch your arms like everybody else". I told him no, that I prefer he touch my shoulders.
Afterward, a few people told me, in a manner meant to enlighten me I suppose, that there is some resentment because I ask people to touch my shoulders instead of holding my hands, like "everyone else does". I've run into this attitude before.
It was like being back in high school for a moment, in the days where conformity ruled and making an individual decision led to being called on the carpet by a clique. I explained briefly that I ask people to touch my shoulders instead of holding hands to avoid injury due to the paralysis. I do this because of injuries I've received because people don't know how to handle paralyzed limbs. Although inadvertent, if someone lets go of my hand suddenly it can result in injury because my arm drops in a free fall. Nor can I feel when someone is squeezing too hard or pulls my arm in a direction that is causing pain and signaling a possible injury.
After numerous injuries over the years, I've learned that being self protective is necessary in a public setting where people come and go and don't understand what quadriplegia is. After all, people make assumptions and act out of a based "norm" of experiences. Although some seem to resent that I ask they touch my shoulders instead so that I avoid injury, most people can appreciate the fact that when I ask for things to be done differently, there's a reason.
Just as each and every person I encounter all day long has a response to my quadriplegia, they also have a response to the accommodations I need . I suppose it's inevitable that some will resent what they perceive as asking for special treatment and resort to using words like weird, even many years after high school.
I can live with that rather than risking more injuries. Praying for others really does lead to a lessening of resentments toward them, another thing I've learned because, as many of us know, everyone teaches us something if we are open to it.