I was born with my leg issues as I didn’t walk until I was almost two years old. But we didn’t know I had knee issues until I hit puberty at the age of thirteen, or hip issues until it was found from a ultrasound at the age of fifteen. My knees started dislocating when I was thirteen, but I couldn’t have surgery until I stopped growing and there is nothing they can do for my hip until am a lot older. I ended up having three knee surgeries; one on my left knee and two on my right knee as it had dislocated and I ended up fracturing my knee joint and wrist nearly three years ago now.  Among many other health issues, I also suffer Chronic Fatigue which leaves me really tired some days.

Last year, I was out with my mum and she was waiting to back into one of the disabled parking spaces. The man that was coming out, saw my sticker, came out and blocked the space because he wanted prove that we needed it.

Mum yelled at him saying “it’s for my daughter” but he kept saying, “Show me” and “Prove it”. He kept saying it’s only for people with wheelchairs or old people, he said “she’s too young” and mum wanted to tell him the reason why & I told her no. I felt so unsafe. I didn’t report him but thinking back on it I should’ve.

It’s not just the public I get abused by. It is also my family that don’t understand that some disabilities are invisible. Also I find that people park in these spaces for convenience.

Thank you Gayle for bravely sharing your story. If this experience sounds similar to something that has happened to you, where you’ve been made to feel unsafe or unworthy of a disability parking permit that you most definitely deserve, please email info@thinkoutsidethechair.com.au. Let’s start by being kind and non-judgemental to people and thinking outside the chair when it comes to invisible disabilities.