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This is a follow-up to How to approach the owner's handicapped son about him distracting our work?

After a couple more weeks with him around, we agreed that he is likely being too protected by his parents (my opinion: most likely his mother, because his father is pretty strict), thus making him too reliant on others.

For example:

He is trying to make a phone call. Even when the phone is well within his reach (conveniently placed by us), he still asked for someone to make a call for him. He knows how to make a call, he did it a few times before by himself, so he knows the code (password) to make outgoing call.


After the work hour, he is always asking one of us to pack up his laptop. Yesterday I refused and encouraged him to do it by himself (after figuring out how much he is capable of). We cheered (kinda) him, and he tried to do it himself. Of course he can!

After figuring that he is perfectly capable to do most jobs he's currently asking people for help, I want to encourage him to learn to do things by himself. I certainly don't want him to get stuck in his wheelchair, and unable to do what he's perfectly capable of. Heck, if he wants to do sport, I'll definitely support him! (I think he has a strong body. I've seen him doing "pull-ups" using a 4-legs walking crutch!)

I'm sad that now he seems to "enjoy being disabled", as people always help him to do even simple stuffs (and maybe even didn't realize that he is perfectly capable of doing that by himself). I realize that this is not my business, if he wants to continue living like that, then go ahead. But I'm kinda scared of what will happen once his parents are gone.

How to approach him to encourage him to be as independent as possible?

I'm thinking to talk to him one-on-one, but I'm not confident that I can do that alone (I have a one-on-one encounter - with other person - that didn't go well). What can we, four persons in the room, do to encourage him to be independent? This can include us talking to him, or something we can do as a group, like refusing to make a call for him (while explaining the reason).

  • What is the interpersonal angle of your question? Do you want advice on how to approach him as to not seem unpersonable or upset him? Or something else? – mag Nov 13 '17 at 7:53
  • @Magisch I've added acquaintance tag. He is not my friend (yet), but I'd like to tell him "Hey, you can do that yourself!", assuming he thought he's not capable doing that himself. This is not about work tasks. – Vylix Nov 13 '17 at 7:57
  • My question is more what kind of advice do you want from here? How to talk to him politely about this? – mag Nov 13 '17 at 8:01
  • @Magisch talking to him is an option. However I'm more looking for an approach. I don't know what we can do, but let's limit this to what we, four-people in the room, can do to make him realize his potential. I'll update the question to reflect this. – Vylix Nov 13 '17 at 8:13
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I assume your objective here is to gently push him towards more independence without alienating him. This is a tough challenge indeed and you and your colleagues need to be careful with how you go about it.

If you are too forceful (for instance refuse to help him in many situations flat out) you could come across as rude and even bullying.

So I would suggest trying the approach you have been trying so far, but always explaining yourself that you think this is for his benefit, not for your laziness.

For instance if he asks you to make a call:

I think you can do that yourself. That way you'll learn to do it faster and you'll be better off when none of us are around or have time.

For more complex tasks, still ask him to do it himself but also offer help when he doesn't know how to do it yet. It's important that you show that you still care and that this is not for your timesaving, but for his benefit.

Even with all these precautions, he could still percieve you as rude and develop resentment. Be prepared for that, as that is a possibility you can't eliminate, merely minimize.

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In general, I've found that when differently-abled people are involved, it's often best to actively encourage them, not just passively.

While you've already started in the right direction, it's a great idea to reward him in a small way for doing every small thing that he did by himself without anyone's help. Then, he'll slowly but surely learn that he's not only capable, but he'll also see that people like it when he does things by himself. If you feel that something is a little harder for him, do persuade him to try, but be around to be able to help him if he needs it.

As you said, he might have become used to being helped. If that is the case, and he isn't liking how everyone is trying to make him do things himself, perhaps you guys could go ahead and tell him why you're doing what you're doing, tactfully. As @Magisch said, you've got to be careful when you tell him to something, as it would need to persuasive but at the same time not alienating or isolative.

I've worked with quite a few people like this, and trust me, they really love to be appreciated, just like you and I would. Giving them a chance to try things themselves is a great way of letting them enjoy the attention and appreciation.

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Necessity is the mother of invention. -Plato

I have observed this in my own life, as well as people close to me. When something HAS to be done, some how it always gets done.

The most effective option is to simply refuse to do what you know they can do on their own. Of course as most things in life, this is best implemented with friendly encouragement and compassion. From your question it sounds like you are already doing this pretty well.

You could also share some inspiring true stories with this person. Depending on your relationship you could Look up para Olympic sports stars, for example, find some awesome videos of them to share with him. He might be inspired by what amazing things other people in his situation have accomplished.

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