GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Opinion

August 17, 2013

Letter: Not all handicaps are always visible

To the editor:

Last Saturday, my son and I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather by going to Niles Beach.

After several hours of enjoying ourselves, we returned to our car, which was parked in the handicapped space, to find this note under our windshield wiper:

“You two are not handicapped!” Please, please be respectful of people who are handicapped. Shameful. License recorded.”

Although I commend those who question such an injustice, you should also verify your suspicions before making such accusations. There are many disabilities that are not visible to the eye such as heart conditions, muscular and joint ailments, autism ... unfortunately, the list goes on and on.

Niles Beach is a fairly small venue, it would have taken but mere minutes for you to walk over to where my son and I were sitting to express your concerns. I would have happily explained his disability and thanked you for your vigilance.

To acquire a handicap placard, you must have a written note from a physician or other professional stating your handicap and fill out an application that must be reviewed and approved by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Once acquired, this placard must be renewed every five years to ensure that your disability is still in effect.

Some say that I should be outraged that I received such a note, and my reply is as follows:

As a proud and loving mother of an autistic son, I consider this day a triumphant one. You see, over the past 17 years, we have received countless stares concerning my son’s behaviors associated with his disability, but I will forever remember this day as the day someone stared at my son and deemed him “too normal” to utilize the handicap parking space.

PAULINE M. BURNHAM

Gloucester

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