An Australian mom is speaking out after finding a note attacking her for using a disabled parking space at a shopping center — though her vehicle has a disability permit.
As 9Honey reports, Shanell Beriman and her 13-year-old daughter, Hailee, returned from a shopping trip to Kmart to find an anonymous note on their car accusing them of taking advantage of parking for the disabled.
“Why are you parking in a disabled car park when both you & your daughter are perfectly capable of walking????” the letter, which Beriman posted to a local community group’s Facebook page, read. “Wrong — shame on you for using the sticker ungraciously.”
What the angry bystander didn’t realize, Beriman says, is that her daughter is disabled. Hailee has been diagnosed with joint hypermobility syndrome and glycogen storage disease type 3, which, in addition to affecting the heart and liver, can weaken muscles and affect mobility.
According to Beriman’s post, her daughter typically uses a wheelchair, walker, and other “supporting aids” daily, but can manage short distances on foot.
“I’m sure there would not have been an issue today if I had pulled out the wheelchair…but today my daughter was having a good day and therefore she did not use the wheelchair for our quick trip into Kmart,” she explained.
“I try to make her walk short distances where possible and when possible, though she does fatigue easily and quickly. (As a matter of fact, she’s spent most of the afternoon in bed since our visit to the shop.)”
Beriman added that she was making the note public “in the hope that the person who left this note on my car today can get their much-wanted answers and to also remind others not to be so quick to judge.”
She also called out the bystander’s “visual assumptions,” noting that Hailee — who she said was “extremely lucky to be alive” — must see a number of medical specialists, including a physiotherapist, to help her deal with the muscular dystrophy that comes with her condition.
“There’s a million other things I could add as they are not her only conditions, but I think that will give you a pretty good idea on why we have a disability permit and why I did and will continue to park in the disability parks provided,” she wrote. “I will also add that when my daughter is not with me, I most certainly DO NOT park in the disability car parks.”
Beriman told 9Honey that she wished that the bystander had expressed her concerns in person and given her a chance to explain.
“Disability comes in all forms, and just because someone looks good it doesn’t mean they are,” she told the Australian outlet.
Her post received messages of support.
“Gutless cowards leave anonymous passive aggressive notes of assumption,” read one Facebook comment. “I’m glad to see that you’re taking this all in stride. Well articulated and a reminder to us all that not all disabilities are visible!”
“So sad that you felt you had to justify yourself to this person,” added another commenter. “Shame on them for hiding behind a note. Can no one just mind their own business these days?”
“Lots of disabled people can walk,” another commenter noted. “Doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the parking space.”
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
- Dwayne Johnson praised for opening up about his battle with depression: ‘I was crying constantly’
- Paralympian with cerebral palsy asked by airline staff to ‘prove disability’
- Reactions to Stephen Hawking’s death slammed as ‘ableist’ — here’s why