There's a list over at Disability Prejudice and Civil Rights Watch of what empowerment is not. I can relate to a number of things on it.
when you ask [someone] a favor, having done them a favor yourself, being told it would be empowering to do it yourself
On the subject of favors, I've noticed how differently that works now since I've acquired my disability. I can help a friend with a resume or a ride or any number of things, but if I ask a favor back, I am often told that it's my aide's job. Or, as the writer says, my commitment to being independent is questioned. Needing a loaf of bread when you have the flu is no different for any of us. It is not empowering to go to the store sick.
It also includes:
Denying my physical or other disabilities and pretending I can do things I can not do
This happens at times. I'm astonished at the number of people who "get embarrassed" when I ask for help cutting up food, for example. The truth is if I pretend I can do it, I'm likely to wind up shooting my food across the room. (Once I landed a sticky cornish hen against a wall, but that's another story.)
What's behind this, however, is not funny. So often I see people with disabilities pretending to do things they can't. They fall or injure themselves. They deny their hidden disability and wind up with larger life problems. It is not empowering to deny who one is.
Great post. Hope more people comment on it or blog about it.