Ian Brown's avatar

by Ian Brown

You didn’t want to listen. You saw what you wanted to see. The following conversation occurred recently in a car parking space in large retail park.

HIM “You can’t park there, it’s a disabled space.”

ME “It’s OK, I have a blue badge.”

HIM “Bloody hell, they give them out for anything these days.”

ME “It’s for my son Thomas”

HIM “Look at you, there’s nothing bloody wrong with you.”

ME “He’s got Cerebral Palsy…”

HIM “It’s a bloody disgrace. That space should be for someone who really needs it…”

ME “He has a wheelchair…”

HIM “You should be ashamed of yourself, bloody fraud.”

ME “He has chronic lung disease, I have an oxygen cylinder in the boot…”

HIM “It make me sick”

ME “He is severely visually impaired and has hydrocephalus too.”

I start to lift Thomas out of the car into his wheelchair. The penny drops!

Special Needs Buggy in Car
Special Needs Buggy in Car

HIM “Oh my, it’s for your son?”

ME “I’ve been trying to tell you”

HIM “Oh, I’m so, so sorry. I didn’t realise…”

ME “You weren’t listening”

HIM “I thought it was for you…”

ME “No, it’s for Thomas. He’s heavy, we need the blue badge.”

HIM “It must be hard looking after a disabled child?”

ME “No not really, you get used to it. He’s a pleasure.”

HIM “I really am very sorry, I didn’t realise.” Starts to shuffle off embarrassed.

ME “You didn’t want to listen. You saw what you wanted to see”.

A version of this happens every time we go out with Thomas. It’s mainly looks or disapproving noises but it’s an ever present in our lives. The extra quality of life that we gained from getting a blue badge is negated by the suspicious glare of the general public. I love having the blue badge as it can save us a lot of hassle, the downside is we needed to have a child with complex special needs in order to qualify. My back hurts each and every evening but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

When people ask me about Thomas and I read of a list of his conditions it can appear that I am fishing for sympathy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Thomas is a happy, wonderful little man who brings joy to everyone who meets him. We don’t need sympathy, just a little bit of understanding that at times our life is a little more complex, a little bit harder and takes a little bit more time than possibly other peoples.

That’s all. Ian

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