My caregiver has a sign on the car that asks people to always give us a little room when we park, so that I can get in the car when we get back from an appointment or a grocery shopping trip.
Many times, people are fine. They read the sign and they park within their lines – which is all we need, in all honesty.
Sometimes they even go further than expected, asking my caregiver if I have enough room!
But… not always.
Unfortunately, I’m often used to the opposite.
People park on the line itself – or worse, in the wheelchair loading lines when we’ve been lucky enough to find the disability spot that has them.
We try to specifically park in the spots with loading lines beside them to avoid people parking over the line, but some people will use the loading lines as actual parking spots.
When that happens, I have to sit alone in the heat (which is not good for my dysautonomia) while my caregiver figures out how to safely move the car so I can get in.
I’m often overwhelmed and dysregulated after outings and appointments, and having to sit outside alone in the parking lot is not safe for me as an autistic adult – especially someone who doesn’t like sudden change to plans!
A parking lot is not an ideal place for a meltdown. But really, is anywhere?
I do wish people were more understanding that people like us exist – and have a right to exist in public. And most of all, that right includes access. If you’re blocking access, you’re blocking my right to exist in public.
We want to be able to do basic things like enjoy going to the park, get groceries, visit the doctor, and maybe even spend time with friends.
Right now, I have to be careful about going out because I’m immunocompromised – but even if things someday might get better, barriers like what you saw in the above photo won’t go away.
Ableism isn’t going away, even though many of us are disabled – and that number rises every day, because disability is a natural part of how humans experience this world.
And considering the long-term effects of COVID, our chronic illness club certainly seems to be growing a bit too.
But you wonder why you don’t see that many wheelchair users in public?
This is one of the many reasons why.