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.
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.