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Not all disabilities are visible: Fed up mum tired of taunts

Rebecca's daughter Liliana has Down Syndrome and the family often use disabled parking but are sometimes judged by people Photo: Warren Lynam / Sunshine Coast Daily
Rebecca's daughter Liliana has Down Syndrome and the family often use disabled parking but are sometimes judged by people Photo: Warren Lynam / Sunshine Coast Daily Warren Lynam

FOR the past five years Rebecca Suanez has had to endure shaking heads, glaring stares and verbal taunts when she parks in a disabled car park.

Why?

Because people see her and three children walking away from the vehicle without any visible physical impairment.

But what they don't realise is that after just a few hundred metres of walking, seven-year-old Liliana is struggling to continue and has to be carried.

Ms Suanez said it was time for people to withhold judgment and refrain from jumping to conclusions about other people's circumstances.

Liliana has Down syndrome and never crawled as a baby.

She only began to walk at the age of four, a late mile

stone which enabled the Suanez family to meet the requirement for a disabled parking permit.

It is something they only use when Liliana is travelling with them, but Ms Suanez has lost count of the number of times she has been rebuked by people assuming she is parking in disabled car parks illegally.

"I cringe the majority of times when I do pull into such a spot, bracing myself for the quick judgmental glances," she said.

"Apart from the convenience that comes with that sticker, there is also a lot of other stuff that comes with it - frustration, anger, sadness, limitation, resentment.

Rebecca's daughter Liliana has Down Syndrome and the family often use disabled parking but are sometimes judged by people Photo: Warren Lynam / Sunshine Coast Daily
Rebecca's daughter Liliana has Down Syndrome and the family often use disabled parking but are sometimes judged by people Photo: Warren Lynam / Sunshine Coast Daily Warren Lynam

"There is pretty much nothing I wouldn't give to not need that sticker at all."

Ms Suanez has tried not to let people's reactions get to her, but last week an elderly woman shook her head, "tut-tutted" at her and muttered "That's a disabled parking spot" loud enough to be heard before continuing on her way.

This came after a morning of trying to calm Liliana down before dropping her off at Chancellor State Primary and Ms Suanez said it sent her over the edge.

"People just need to be kind and understanding," she said.

"This lady's comment upset my two older children and quite frankly angered me, so I am glad that I did not respond to her at the time.

"Nine times out of 10 people are wonderful and it does make it slightly easier for us because Liliana's disability shows in her face ...

"But there are a lot of families who have loved ones with disabilities that aren't visible and people can be very unkind when they don't understand that."

The family is in the process of applying for a wheelchair for Liliana as, weighing roughly half Ms Suanez's body weight, she is getting too heavy to carry.

The Queensland Govern

ment website says that to be eligible for a disabled permit, people must be able to prove they are unable to walk.

They must also need to be using a wheelchair or their ability to walk is severely restricted by a permanent or temporary medical condition.

That condition or conditions must be certified by medical practitioners.

Topics:  abuse disability down syndrome editors picks



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