Have you ever watched as someone has left their car in a disabled space and then walked away without any obvious signs of a disability?
Perhaps this has angered you and have felt the need to shout at them, confront them or at the very least give them a very hard stare.
While it is great to defend the disabled parking spaces, not all disabilities are visible. Disabled parking is for a wide range of disabilities, not just those who cannot or struggle to walk. They can also use the disabled parking if their passenger is disabled. If you are ever in doubt they should have a Blue Badge displayed in the front of their car. You may also find they are wearing a green lanyard with sunflowers, which indicates a hidden disability.
What are Hidden Disabilities?
Hidden Disabilities can be as debilitating as physical disabilities in some cases and certain circumstances. Often they can be neurological disorders affected by stress and anxiety and include autism, mental health, learning disabilities, chronic Illnesses and diabetes for example.
What can make it hard to detect is that while some have symptoms present all the time that you may pick up on as you spend more time with them, others have sporadic symptoms or the symptoms may be completely undetectable to you.
Fibromyalgia is one example of this. This can cause extreme muscle, joint and nerve pain constantly or after walking for a distance for example. Having the use of disabled parking space may mean they can go shopping and get back in the car before their symptoms flare up.
Anxiety or stress disorders can stop a person from trying to park, as the attempt to squeeze the car into a tight parking spot freezes them to the spot or causes them to have an accident in the process.
ME / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can cause extreme exhaustion, so limiting the distance you have to travel is vital. Having a disabled parking space can make the difference between shopping and going home or having to sit down and rest for a time while on the way back to the car or not being able to drive the car at all.
The elderly may also have physical & hidden disabilities and need the extra space around the car that a disabled parking space provides.
How can you help?
Having a disability is not fun. Everyday can be a struggle, so minimising stress and anxiety is very important. You can help by being more aware of disabilities and the fact that they might not be visible. If you see someone struggling with what seems a simple task, it may be because of a hidden disability, so always be patient.
No one wants to be the centre of attention (especially when they are struggling), so try not to highlight the fact that someone may be struggling. If you can discreetly help that is usually the preferred option.
Be normal. Having a disability doesn't make you any less human and fitting in can be a challenge. The more that you can accept someone's differences and look past that the easier it will be for them to become part of your social circle.
How can DSP help?
As a charity dedicated to supporting those in need, we specialise in benefits and finance management. If you are disabled and need help applying for benefits or have difficulty planning your budget, managing your finances or writing a will get in touch.
Thank you to all those fighting to make the world more inclusive and aware.