The Herald reported:
An Auckland mother says she is subjected to abuse and insults by elderly strangers for using mobility parks because her brain-damaged son “doesn’t look disabled”.
Other parents with disabled children, those suffering from disabilities themselves and disability advocates say it is a common problem.
The North Shore woman has a permit to use the parks due to the needs of her 3-year-old son who cannot walk or control his upper body following the removal of a brain tumour when he was 3 months old. She does not want to be named for fear of further abuse and said the level of aggression she is subjected to means she will now abandon her errands if the only option is to use one of the parks.
“Elderly people have come up to me and made it clear that I shouldn’t be parking there because I don’t look disabled and my child doesn’t look disabled,” she said.
Last week an elderly man blocked her into a mobility park she was using at Westfield Glenfield, yelled at her and threatened her with his walking stick.“He parked his car behind my car and jumped out like he was … in his 20s with his walking stick and came up and said, ‘You need to move your car because you’re not disabled’.
“I said that I wasn’t but my son was, and he looked at my son and said, ‘What? This boy? He’s not disabled’. He got his stick and waved it around at me and shouted at me and I just stood there and said, ‘I am sorry but I won’t be moving, I am entitled to park here just like you are’. And he threatened to call the police so I pulled my phone out and offered to do it for him because he was the one waving a stick in my face.”
What a pillock. One should never make assume that all disabilities are visible. It is quite valid to check if someone has a mobility parking permit and point out these parks are reserved for those who do. But if someone does have a permit, it is not for you to decide if you personally think they deserve it.
Another Aucklander, Bonnie Robinson, suffers from multiple sclerosis and said she was often questioned about her use of the parks despite displaying her permit.
“I have had people come up to me,” she said. “They have just queried and I can understand why as long as people are polite, respectful and sensitive about how they do it.
“Not everyone who parks in a disabled car park actually wants to tell people why they can because it can be quite private.”