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Section: general-health, manners

Dear Ann Landers,
My sister is a dwarf and has been confined to a wheelchair for the past nine years. Since I was a small child, I have hated the ignorance with which she is treated. Even when she was able to walk, people would stare at her, step away and even pull their children back as if she had a contagious disease. Restaurant servers ignore her or ask me what she wants to eat. When that happens, I say, "Why don't you ask her?" This startles them. They apparently don't think she is able to understand or speak. She has had appointments with physicians who rarely talk to her and direct the conversation to whoever is with her. You would think doctors would be less ignorant, but they are not. It disgusts me when adults behave in this manner. I can only imagine how it makes my sister feel. Please remind your readers that all people deserve to be treated with respect. -- Ignorance Hurts

Dear I.H.,
Children need to be taught at an early age how they should behave when they encounter someone who is "different." The first lesson is: "Do not stare. If you have questions, ask me later, and I will explain it to you." When adults treat a physically challenged person as if he or she were brain-damaged, speak up and set them straight. If that individual is embarrassed, fine. The lesson will make an even deeper impression.

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A Note from Margo:
Hi! It's Margo here. I'd love to know what you think of the letters -- and the answers!

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flyingarrow's Comment
All I can say is "Who are these people?" I can't believe someone would treat another human being as a non-person, no matter what their challenges are. I hope that you have friends and family who help her to see how she should expect to be treated (and how she should treat other people).
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, whatever they needed I provided. What really hurt my son and I the most was the obituary - we were not mentioned at all. Our friends (mine and hers) were appalled. I was embarrassed and upset for not just me, but for my son-who loved her also. I never been so upset. Her x-husband put his wife and kids and their grandchildren in the obituary, who my girlfriend barely knew. They live an hour away from us. I know its silly to be mad over a little section of the newspaper, but it still hurts. Will time let this devastating loss of her and this article ever go away? I am so angry at this whole situation, its not like we can go and rewrite an obituary notice.

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"Sensual pleasures have the fleeting brilliance of a comet; a happy marriage has the tranquillity of a lovely sunset."
-Ann Landers