I can no longer remember how many times I’ve heard the words “She doesn’t look disabled”.
Don’t even get me started on “She doesn’t look autistic”, what exactly do they think an autistic person looks like.
I’ve sometimes thrown that question back at people and they stand there, stunned and can’t answer.
As far as the disabled comment goes, it really bothers me.
My daughter walks. She doesn’t need a wheelchair, so people automatically assume she’s not really entitled to her blue badge and they stare and whisper or make ignorant and judgemental comments.
No, she’s not in a wheelchair, sorry about that. But she has some mobility issues, a lot of safety issues and she’s a child that has a condition that affects her emotions, thought and the space around her.
She’s autistic with moderate learning difficulties and these difficulties can impact her life greatly.
She’s easily lost without guidance and when sensory overload kicks in or anxiety, the ‘fight or flight’ often ends in flight regardless of surroundings, traffic, roads.
When her anxiety is in full swing, she often becomes limited with speech too and resists support and help.
So yeah, for those reasons and a few more, she has a blue badge. But for many members of the public, they visually expect to see a physical disability.
A total lack of awareness and understanding for autism and for all invisible conditions.
I’m quite a tolerant person but there are days I want to laminate copies of her DLA entitlement, risk assessments and her Occupational Therapy report and stick them in our car windows so before we get the “Well, she doesn’t look disabled” and “Well, there is clearly nothing wrong with her” comments, the public can read and educate themselves!
A lot of people don’t realise that you can apply for a blue badge for hidden disabilities and conditions, it’s a fairly new thing.
In some ways I understand why people react as they do when they see my daughter walking and looking very able.
It doesn’t mean their behavior and comments are acceptable mind, just that I can see why they think the way they do.
It’s frustrating that society can be so judgemental before knowing the facts.
The final thing I’ll add here is that to get a blue badge you have to provide a lot of reports, evidence, reasons.
You have to jump through hoops and go through a system that doesn’t always play fair and you have to prove how that invisible condition impacts daily life.
To the members of the public with their whispers, looks and judgey pants on – I promise you they don’t hand out blue badges or DLA easily.
We have to fight for everything! So please, try and learn more about invisible conditions and disabilities rather than looking at us as if we’re playing the system or faking it!
(This blog was originally one I’d written for https://www.fireflyfriends.com/ )