Handicapped Placards Shouldn’t Be Misused
I use a handicapped placard for my youngest son, Caeleb, who has hemophilia and deals with complications from the clotting factor used to treat his illness, which causes him to have pain.
Caeleb, 15, participates in his school’s marching band and practices after school four days a week. At the end of his day he is exhausted, and when I pick him up I park in a handicapped spot, placard displayed, so he doesn’t have so far to walk to my car.
Sometimes the handicapped spaces are filled with parents also waiting for their children, but I have noticed that some of these people are not using their placards properly. Once, I caught a glimpse of one woman’s placard and the picture on the back was for a person who was not in the vehicle. Another person waited for three kids to pile into the van without an adult ever leaving the car.
I have misused my son’s placard too, but as I’ve watched my son struggle with his chronic pain, I realized that was wrong to have done, and now I use it only when it’s absolutely necessary. When Caeleb’s pain is under control, the placard stays in the glove compartment. I want my son to understand that his handicapped placard shouldn’t be used simply to obtain a good parking space. A handicapped placard is issued for the person with a disability; it is not transferrable. If I use Caeleb’s placard and he is not with me, I am violating the law. The placard is not for my personal use; it is for my son.
Not all illnesses are visible, and it might not be obvious why someone might require a special accommodation, like a handicapped parking placard. Every person has a story and struggles that we may never understand. Often a person can be battling an illness or situation that is not easy to observe. It is an important lesson for those who do not require mobility assistance to understand that what they see may not necessarily be the whole story. Until a person lives with a specific diagnosis or has a loved one who struggles with an illness, understanding the plight of someone with special needs can be difficult.
My son normally comes out of practice using a cane and limping. His illness is very visible. When I use his handicapped placard, it should be obvious to anyone why I need it.
I learned my lesson about using my placard improperly, and I am still learning another lesson — not to judge those whose illness may not be obvious to me. When I see spaces being taken by people simply sitting and waiting, I am reminded how important it is that everybody use their handicapped placard properly and not abuse the privilege.
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