Blue badge

After reading about the blue badge scheme in the ‘Help! Parent Manual’ (published by The National Autistic Society) I decided to apply. A blue badge gives the holder access to disabled parking and, I understand, is automatically available to those in receipt of the higher rate disability living allowance with mobility issues. B does not receive the higher rate dla and when we applied for it we did not place emphasis on mobility as an issue. However, as he has grown older it has become more apparent that B’s autism presents what I would say was a definite mobility impairment. Whilst he does not have a physical disability, I think that his safety is considerably affected by his condition.

I thought carefully about whether or not to apply. Ultimately, I felt that I could present a convincing case and it would then be up to the powers that be to decide. I did not expect the application to be accepted. The ‘rules’ are fairly clear about who can receive it and autism related issues do not seem to have been taken into account in them. The ‘Help! Parent Manual’ suggests it might be worth applying anyway, so I did. I completed the application form and attached an additional supporting letter. Here is what I wrote:

Please find attached an application for a blue badge on behalf of B, aged 4. The form has been completed by B’s father, B’s Dad.

B is currently registered disabled and receives middle rate disability living allowance.

Ref: XXXXXXX

B has a diagnosis of ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder). As parents, it is our opinion that B’s needs extend to mobility issues and concerns that come under the blue badge scheme.

Principally, B’s disability is such that he is a danger to himself in public areas where traffic is present. B requires adult supervision at all times when in outdoor places. He has no sense of danger at all near roads or in car parks. He frequently runs off. We usually take a pushchair for B to sit in when we go out, but he has outgrown standard pushchairs and is increasingly reluctant to use them. B can also have tantrums when outside if he has been told he cannot have something or go somewhere and can become very distressed. This can lead to erratic and potentially dangerous behaviour. B also has obsessive behaviour and his current obsession is to try and open doors on stranger’s cars to get in. Typically, B will run in front of cars in car parks, step out into the road and handle the vehicles of others. On several occasions he has managed to open our car door, causing it to bump the car next to us in narrow parking spaces. B’s lack of due care and attention means he frequently falls. He is perpetually clumsy as a result of rushing to do things without a consideration of his environment or potential hazards. All of the above behaviour stems from B’s social and communication difficulties, delayed speech and delayed development. B’s autism means that he is unable to operate safely within such environments. B does not understand verbal instructions that warn him of danger or tell him to stop. Only by physically restraining him can B be removed from danger.

As such, we feel that a blue badge is an important need for B. It would eliminate the need to park in small spaces and would also allow for closer proximity to safer areas when parking. This is especially important given that B is frequently supervised by just one adult who also has the care of B’s brother to consider. I would consider B’s needs to constitute a walking disability. He is restricted in his (and his carer’s) ability to visit shops, public buildings and other places.

I would be grateful if the details in this covering letter could be considered in addition to the attached form. I would be happy to provide any further details thought necessary.

I look forward to hearing from you.

To my surprise, we received a phone call this week informing us that the application had been successful! I’m understandably very pleased about this, albeit with the usual tinge of sadness and regret that we need such a thing. My understanding is that either our GP or paediatrician was contacted and they agreed and approved the application. I don’t know how influential the actual letter was- perhaps all such applications are referred to the doctor. Nonetheless, I’ve posted it here in the hope that it may help others.

I’m coming to realise that autism is a strange disability (if that makes any sense) in that it is less visible or tangible than other disabilities. It is also so varied and wide-ranging that understanding it and accepting it is difficult. As such, the provision out there is not always adequate. I’d suggest that anyone on the spectrum should be considered for assistance such as the blue badge scheme. Sadly this is not the case, and it is up to parents to actively pursue such support.

Getting the blue badge feels like a small triumph in getting the issues faced by a person with autism acknowledged.

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7 Responses to Blue badge

  1. Hi,
    Thanks for posting this, we’ve been thinking about getting a blue badge, but haven’t as we are not sure if Autism is a ‘qualifing’ disability. Now, thanks to your post, I think we will apply for one.

    Makes you wonder what else you can apply for, that we are not aware of.

    Stephen

    • Diane says:

      You can get a card for cinema which lets the adult go in free and they do at our cinema last Sunday in every month cinema for a £1.00 like on Saturday but only for disability children and Legoland etc show their statement for disability you get passes to go to front of queue and someswimmingbaths do a disability night

  2. Jonna Healey says:

    Thank you for posting this! After our son was diagnosed with ASD, we made a claim for DLA, which he received at the higher rate of care but not for the mobility. This is because he is under 5. After reading this I think we will peruse the BBS further as our son portrays all the same ‘symptoms’ as you’ve discribed.

    It’s also reassuring that somebody else understands the circumstances surrounding ASD. As you’ve said, because it’s not a ‘physical’ disability in most cases, a lot of people don’t understand autism. In a sense it makes me glad when I read posts like this that are so true to home. Like you’re not on your own!

    Thanks again

  3. Louise says:

    Hi, I came across your posting whilst researching cases of ASD and blue badges. I wondered which LA you are in as I’m in the middle of a lengthy appeal process re the BBS. My 6 year old is profoundly autistic and hearing impaired and yet my LA feels this does not warrant a badge…..

  4. Sarah Tweddle says:

    I found this so so useful! I have a 5 year old son who is autistic. He has two sisters aged 7 and 2. We currently receive the middle rate dal and lower rate mobility. I asked for our claim to be looked at again with the aim of being awarded the higher rate mobility. This was not for monetary gain but to be able to qualify for the blue badge scheme. The. Reasons were extremely similar to yours. Josh’s impulsivity, unpredictability, sudden refusals to walk and sensory issues which cause him to behave in and irrational and quite frankly dangerous manner are a daily challenge. He often runs of and has run into roads. When he was a toddler I could restrain him but as he gets older this is becoming more dangerous. I feel he not only endangers himself, but also that of his siblings.
    Your article has inspired me to persevere with getting a blue badge so thank you! We also live in terraced housing with no parking permits which means that any time after about 5pm we have to park several streets away. Managing josh as well as his siblings is quite frankly dangerous!
    Anyway, thanks you
    Sarah Tweddle

    • B's Dad says:

      Thanks Sarah, glad this was useful. A word of caution though- since posting, my understanding is that the blue badge system has changed and people are finding it more difficult to get them issued by their local authorities (my 83 year old grandmother is currently appealing a refusal, despite having had one for years!). We have ruled out our son getting his renewed next time round, although that won’t stop us trying. Neither should it stop you trying. You are absolutely right to expect this support which is clearly needed. I wish you luck. Let me know how you get on.

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