Why you shouldn’t need to see to believe

Miriam Gwynne by Miriam Gwynne Additional Needs

Miriam Gwynne

Miriam Gwynne

Full time mum and carer for two truly wonderful autistic twins. I love reading, writing, walking, swimming and encouraging others. Don’t struggle a...

Sadly I am used to it.

But I shouldn’t need to be.

People see me hook arms with a boy who is just a centimetre smaller than me and look with wide eyes.

He doesn’t look any different to any other almost 12 year old so why do I treat him like a toddler? Maybe I am one of those overprotective mums?

They watch as he climbs up stairs less than half his height and I see the judgement that he’s on a slide meant for pre school children. Some even say something, rarely directly to me and mostly to people nearby.

‘Kids that age should be on the bigger stuff. Shocking!’

‘There’s an age restriction for a reason. Not that some people read it!’

I just smile.

Had I brought my son into the same place in a wheelchair they wouldn’t be saying this.

If he was visibly disabled, missing a limb, using a walker or even on crutches these same people would likely be sympathetic, inclusive and understanding.

How do I know this? Well last year my son was in a wheelchair, had all his hair shaved off and had a very noticeable large scar across his head. When he was doing then exactly what he does now other parents smiled at us, spoke to us and even asked if he was ok.

When his brain tumour was seen people understood he was disabled but now they can’t see his disabilities it’s like they no longer exist.

Does gravity still exist even if you can’t see it?

Do you still believe in oxygen even though you can’t see it around you?

Just because some disabilities are invisible doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

You shouldn’t need to be able to see that my son is non verbal.

You shouldn’t need to see that he has severe learning disabilities.

You shouldn’t need to know he’s epileptic.

I shouldn’t need to explain that he’s autistic.

I often wonder if his conditions were visible would I still get the eye rolls, the tuts and the comments? Would I still have to justify why I use a disabled bathroom with him? Would you still question why he’s on the smaller slide for his own safety?

I get strange looks when I am out with my son. Sadly I am used to it because he’s one of the one in ten people who live with invisible disabilities every single day.

I shouldn’t need to get used to those looks and comments, neither should my son. But until society realises there can be so much more than what you see nothing will change.

Until people realise you don’t need to see something to believe it exists those comments sadly won’t be the last we will hear.

And we won’t be alone in hearing them either.

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