What is it about?

The rollercoaster adventures of parenting three kids, dealing with disability and mental health - and discussing disability discrimination and how to tackle it.

Thursday, 4 September 2014


I am so sick and tired of the endless disability in-fighting. No wonder the disability system is such a bloody mess; we are way to busy to fight each other than to fight the system.

As the mother of kids with disability, I often find myself at the receiving end of the "people with disability (PWD) versus "parent/carers" competition.

For starters, I really hate the "parent/carer" issue. I am not a carer. In my books, a carer is someone who is paid to care. Its a job. I am not a carer. I am a mother. And I do what I do for my kids. My kids will be adults one day (I hope). Until then I will fight for them. Because, you know, its not about me. Its about the needs of my kids. We are not actually on opposite sides.

I am so fed up with constantly having to justify myself. 

Let me give you an example.

There is a Facebook page where you can upload photos of those annoying people who keep parking in disabled parking spots without a permit. The idea is to take a picture of the car which clearly shows the car is in a disabled spot, and then a picture of the windscreen without a permit. The hope is that by publicly "shaming" them, this behaviour will eventually cease. And before you ask, yes, it sometimes works, and sometimes doesn't. 

Every so often  this group digresses into a discussion over the rules and regulations of the permit and its use. It's not really what the group is all about, but it keeps happening - and it generally opens a whole can of worms.

Last week, someone commented on how she finds it "suspect" when someone pulls into a disabled car part and pops the permit in the window. Because, you know, "real" disabled people leave the permit in the window permanently. 

Except of course, there is nothing suspect about this. When I have my kids in the car and use the permit to park, I put the permit in the window. When I do not have my kids with me, for example, because they are at school, I do not use the permit. In fact, I am not allowed to use the permit. So I move it away from the windscreen. And then back into the window when I arrive at school to pick them up. Despite the fact that these very same people would probably murder me for having the permit up if I don't have the kids with me, it took quite a bit of convincing them that what I do is correct and legal.

The other night a woman had a right old go at "people parking in the disabled spot running errands while the disabled permit holder is left in the car". 

She was upset because laziness is not a disability. Too true, but I pointed out to her that we had had this discussion on the forum before and, most importantly, that in some states, including NSW where I live, this is perfectly legal, and for good reasons.

Let me explain.

I have two kids who use a wheelchair. Sometimes I need to pop into the shops quickly. Sometimes I park in the disabled spot (not always, only when there is not a closer one available). I then have two options. I can leave the kids in the car and dash in and out, and be done in 10 minutes. Or I can take both kids out - this means one wheelchair, help transfer one child into it and drive to a safe spot, then take out second wheelchair, lift second child into it, close all car doors, lock car, and  go to my shop. Then do the whole thing in reverse, which takes twice as long, if not longer. And that's if I use the manual wheelchairs - the powerchair has to be partially dismantled to get in and out of the car which takes significantly longer.

Surely it's in everyone's benefit if I can do these boring errands in half the time. And, you know, free up the space sooner. For some families there are health issues to, both for the parents (endless lifting, some more complex wheelchairs can weight 25 kilos) and the comfort and health of the person with the disability (some kids may spasm in cold or seize in hot weather).

I can go on about this. I won't bore you with it all. You may even feel that you have a different opinion, which is fine by me. Suffice to say that I pointed out on the forum that in NSW it is legal to use the permit as long as the permit holder is in the car.

But you should have seen the comments that followed. Again, I wont bore you with them. And I cant quote them to you, as the post has since been deleted. I was called "aggressive" and again accused of being lazy, of doing something illegal, of "stealing" a spot from a "legitimate" user.

Apart from the fact that they were plain wrong (one woman even posted the NSW rules which clearly showed this is legal to try and prove it wasn't, thereby only proving her stupidity) the comments were all really condescending. 

What it really came down to is that they were all comments along the line of "my permit is better than yours" because "I am a disabled driver" and you are not, its only your child". Ageist nonsense. My kids count just as much as a disabled adult. 

You can probably guess by how, this is getting really up my nose.

Because, really, I'm only in this disability stuff for the parking, you know. If it wasn't for the wonderfully disabled parking when I pop into the shops to buy some sparkling dancing shoes I would have given my kids up for adoption years ago. Grrrr....


Seana Smith said...

Very petty, that sort of discussion... isn't it obvious that getting kids in and out of he car unnecessary is a waste of time. You might only be diving out to get milk... or fags and booze, whatever. And people do get so aggro online, in a way they wouldn't face to face. Manners please!

Cindy said...

The difference in rules is interesting. In Alberta, Canada, the disabled parking pass is NOT to be left in the window - it is only to be put out when you are parking but most people don't read it and keep it in the window at all times. Here, the disabled person must get out of the car if you are parked in a disability parking space - I guess they assume if the disabled person is not exiting the car, the car does not need to be near the door as the non-disabled person can walk.