By Richard DiPrima, PsyD, LP
Recently, a Colorado mother and her 10-year-old daughter, who has a genetic disorder, found an unpleasant note taped to their car windshield. The note accused them of pretending to need handicap-accessible parking, simply to take advantage of closer proximity to a retail store. The note accused them of being lazy and idiotic.
I was both disappointed and surprised to hear this news. While many children who have complex conditions have visible symptoms or use adaptive devices like wheelchairs or walkers, countless others have disabilities that can’t be seen. These children often need the same level of medical care—not to mention acceptance and support—as they work to overcome and live with their health challenges.
Take, for example, a child who has a traumatic brain injury. Even if the individual is fortunate enough to recover his or her ability to walk, physical, cognitive and emotional challenges can remain for years after an accident. A child who has epilepsy may not appear any different from his or her peers unless in the midst of a seizure. And an individual who has juvenile idiopathic arthritis may appear to move normally, but experience extreme pain while doing so.
Plato famously said: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” In this spirit, let’s have some more compassion—and let’s spread some more kindness. It will do us all a world of good.