What’s simply “convenient” for you may be an essential disability accommodation for others

Every week there’s discussion on Twitter about convenience and disability accommodations. You’ve probably put your two cents in without even knowing it on a post ruing how you can buy pre-cut fruit at the supermarket, or on a post about the labor conditions of DoorDash workers. You probably weren’t deliberately ableist, you just come at it from your point of view – home delivered groceries from the majors is a convenience for you, a time saver in this busy world, while for others it’s the only way they can do a grocery shop for whatever reason. That reason isn’t really any of your business, but it could be physical ability to carry groceries, energy sapping disabilities that really can’t prioritise browsing the aisles, sensory difficulties that mean supermarkets are hell on earth, and many more. These are some of the people who can’t just shop at Aldi, no matter any price savings that may come from it.

Other people may DoorDash a meal on a day when they don’t have the energy for cooking, after prioritising other mentally or physically taxing tasks in their spoon allocation. They’re likely well away that the delivery driver isn’t receiving minimum wage, and feel guilty. That driver is possibly also disabled or another minority, eeking out a living in this discriminatory world, taking what work comes their way.

A Twitter contact was denied pre-prepared meals in the NDIS plan. These services tend to be only part-funded even if you do get them, but can mean the difference between subsisting off two minute noodles or having to rely on a $60 an hour NDIS funded support worker to cook for you. This particular person loves to cook and can’t do it any more due to their  disability, but instead of accepting this, the OT recommended they get more supports around learning to cook in order to become independent in their cooking. Again, she really wishes she could get back to making meals for herself and even for others but that’s not what life is presenting her, and having to fight the NDIS to acknowledge this and BELIEVE her is also energy-sapping and disheartening.

I was present for my sister’s first NDIS planning meeting this week, and she, like many late-diagnosed AuDHD peeps out there, has a collection of strategies that she uses to get by in this world, that are “ok” but not brilliant and we’re hoping these new supports can help her organise her life into something she thrives in.

Meanwhile, I’m watching and seeing how it goes for her, seeing if medications and therapeutic and other supports actually helps her out before I even consider going down that route for myself. In the meantime I have my own little things in life that people may consider convenience tools but I use to make my life more satisfying and manageable.

One is the meal box delivery services I use, a mainstream tool as an executive functioning aid. I still have to / get to cook meals every night, but I don’t need to get into the planning out of the meals, what and how much of it I need, ensuring what I want makes it home in my shopping, and not having to face the dilemma of what to do if something isn’t available (common for us Aldi shoppers) because I’m there at the wrong time of day. It also makes my actual in-person shops smaller – I mostly buy dairy and eggs or little treats, with extra fruit and veg coming from my foodbank foraging through the week. This means I’m in the store less, get less overwhelmed, and don’t really have to think too much on the spot, I just do the shopping and get out.

The ingredients that came in one everyplate box

I don’t want to just talk about food, but that’s my thing isn’t it? Ever the food blogger, even now. But again what you might see as a treat – seeing a sex worker, having a trip away from your family (or respite stays when you’re caring 24/7 for someone), having a bar fridge next to your workstation – enable you to function and thrive and live your best (disabled) life. If the NDIS doesn’t fund these things, many disabled people (or their carers) won’t have access to them, they will never be a little luxury for them, and they certainly cannot afford to fund many of these things themselves.

So, when you worry about whether something a disabled person is doing or using is necessary, it probably is for them. Unfortunately we’re not at the stage of most disabled people getting to move beyond that, so please watch how you challenge their everyday needs.