Some disabilities are obvious, being clearly visible to other people. But other people’s conditions are not so obvious because they do not affect their physical appearance. These are the so-called ‘invisible’ illnesses.
When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, although I had physical issues; they were not obvious and I did my very best to hide them.
As time went on, and my condition deteriorated, I needed to walk with a stick and could not stand for long. I was given a parking card to allow me to park my car in places reserved for people with disabilities but, on more than one occasion, there were audible comments made about not having a wheelchair. They didn’t understand that, just because I was walking with a stick, I still had a disability with severe mobility issues.
I don’t hear those comments any more as, these days, using a wheelchair is a necessity. But I still feel for those who suffer the unwarranted comments.
Speaking of unnecessary comments, I wonder if you have seen videos of people with obvious difficulties, such as Down’s Syndrome being verbally abused by strangers in front of other people. OK, these videos are all set up with actors playing the abused and abusers to capture the reactions of others with hidden cameras.
They are from ABC, under the title What would you do? You can find them on Facebook and YouTube.
The actors playing the abusers use offensive language when talking to the abused and try to get others to agree with them.
Sadly, some go along with it, some keep quiet and don’t get involved but, thankfully, there are good people who stand up to the bullies. And, when they do so, it is not in some meek and mild way. There is none of that “you really shouldn’t say that”, instead they say exactly what they think in a no-holds barred fully confrontational way.
I think my favourite line from one video was a woman customer at a supermarket check-out taking on another woman abusing a young bag-packer with Down’s Syndrome. Disgusted, the shocked woman told the abuser: “If he was my son, I’d deck you” before the film crew hastily stepped in.
Another woman, who turned out to be a schoolteacher, took issue with a male abuser who, among other things, had described the same young bag-packer as a ‘retard’. He said that the young man was slow and shouldn’t be employed there.
Cue the woman! She proceeded to give the abuser the dressing-down of his life, a really severe tongue-lashing, telling him that he should be ashamed of himself.
Whoever and wherever they are, they are my kind of public-spirited people.