Friend: One adult, two OAP's, two children, one of whom has a disability and a carer please.
Ticket person: Which of your children has a disability?
Friend: This one
Ticket person: He looks perfect to me.
Friend: He is perfect but he also has a disability!
And reluctantly my friend was given her concessionary rates.
Now, I'll be honest. I remember being at a particular attraction where the person behind the desk looked at my kids and then ask for proof of disability. I have absolutely no problem at all with showing evidence for my kids disabilities. But I remember the incident because after we got through the gate I turned to my husband and said something along the lines of... "If one of the kids had been holding crutch I bet I wouldn't have been asked for evidence," whilst mumbling to myself that a crutch in and of itself doesn't necessarily indicate a disability.
It was several years ago now and perhaps I wasn't having the best day. But I think my friends experience perhaps characterises a still common misconception about what 'disability looks like', because of course, it does not necessarily look like anything in particular.
This morning for example, one of my kids disabilities looks like a child repeated jumping up and down... and the other one's is represented by just repeatedly talking. There are soo many disabilities whether that be down to genetics, conditions or illnesses that can appear invisible.
You can't necessarily tell by looking at someone if they have difficulty hearing, seeing or reading, if they become excessively tired, struggle with stairs, or are overloaded by crowds. None of these would be obvious by sight, and although this blog is mostly about autism and ADHD, I can tell you that the child in the example above didn't have any of our family conditions. But as his disability was invisible, it could have been.
It can be easy, to be like I was, those years ago, and grumble when people don't see it. And this is where I applaud my friend, and hope that in similar circumstance I would do the same. Declare my child as perfect.
For yes, they have a disability but this does not negate their person. My kids may not speak perfect English and their somewhat reddish hair can be unruly at times, but these imperfections are not actual flaws. And neither their autism or their disabilities. For perfect people can have disabilities just like the imperfect do, whether you can see them or not.
From an imperfect mum to perfect kids xxx