Having to go to appointments to my doctor here in Rhode Island, so we can again fill out the form for the state to confirm that I still qualify for a handicap sticker for me, causes a humiliating and heartbreaking feeling to have to be reminded that I have two incurable conditions. And yet, I have to get that signature to confirm that I am still dealing with this future. And then, when I am not in a wheelchair, thus appearing normal, I also have to deal with those of you out there who feel so free to judge people like me, despite possessing no knowledge of conditions that require the need for this. So many jump to the conclusion that I am probably not deserving any special compensation.

So what has brought this judgment by others towards those of us with the  handicap placard? It reminds me of the unpleasant memories back in elementary school where one classmate would do something stupid, the teacher would ask who was responsible, not one would rat on that person nor would the person give themselves up. The result would be the entire class had to face the punishment. It always stuck with me that punishing the many for the sins of a few as being overly punitive and unfair, and here we are now as grown ups still facing that type of attitude. Thanks to those few out there, that have abused a handicap placard, you have given the green light for other people to assume that if we look normal, then we must have no need for these limited privileges. I think most of the abuse comes from individuals somehow obtaining a family member’s card and using it like their own. I agree that is wrong but it should not reflect on the legitimacy of those of us who need this capacity to park close to stores or businesses in which walking significant distance presents an obstacle. It doesn’t delete the majority of us that truly need this ability to park close to be able to enter a store.  Also, some states make it much easier for abuse of the placard. Talking with people from other states, I realize that each state has different requirements to obtain the handicap placard. For instance in California, all you need is a note from your doctor and when it expires,  you just reapply. So we cleary need to make the process of obtaining the placard more uniform across the country and also seriously consider two types – one that doesn’t expire for those of us with permanent incurable conditions and another type that would be a temporary situation for need. And both should require a visit to the doctor confirming either situation.

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So, let me share just a few stories of disabled people that have been approached with judgement and what they are facing daily with their conditions:

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Tips for Those that Tend to Judge Others:

Tips for those that need to use a handicap sticker:

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The intent of this article is to inform and educate in an effort to attempt to begin a process of examining our collective attitudes toward the handicapped with the goal of increased public understanding of the challenges faced by the truly handicapped. You can’t  judge a book by it’s cover. Many  people live with invisible illnesses. Why not turn this around and believe what a person tells you, trust first, instead of jumping to judgement. With my condition Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, I can be walking a short distance one day and then be back to a wheelchair for some days, depending of subluxing of the hips, tibia, and fibula. It is heartbreaking when things slip backwards, and then to have to add your judgement too?

Let’s try to be kinder, more tolerant  and work towards becoming an understanding society.

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