REAL LIFE

My fight for fairness

Her son's disabilities may not be obvious - but this mum is sick of being judged
supplied

Hannah Elizabeth Garlick, 30, Prestons, NSW

As I put my son Caleb, six months, in the car at the supermarket, I heard a voice behind me. ‘You shouldn’t steal your nan’s sticker,’ they said. Turning around, I realised I’d never met the woman before. She was gesturing at the disabled parking badge on my car windscreen. She thinks I’m just using the sticker to get a good parking spot, I realised.

My poor boy looks like an Egyptian mummy!

My husband Michael, 30, and I were given the badge because of Caleb’s health problems. He suffers from eosinophilic oesophagitis, an allergic inflammatory condition, and laryngomalacia, which make breathing difficult and causes sleep apnoea. He has severe allergies and eczema, which means he has to be smothered in cream and covered in uncomfortable wet bandages regularly. My poor boy looks like an Egyptian mummy! Air-conditioning can also cause flare ups, as changes in temperature can irritate his skin. To avoid this, I often have to dash in and out of places with him.

Caleb in all his bandages looks like a mummy
Caleb is covered in lotion and wrapped in bandages to help soothe his symptoms. (Credit: supplied)

One Christmas, I took Caleb and his sister Alexis, four, out shopping. As we left the car park, I noticed a piece of paper fluttering under the windscreen wiper. I did not see a disabled person get out of your car, it read in capital letters. Since then I’ve found about 30 angry notes and faced dozens of dirty looks and comments – despite always clearly displaying our badge.

The note left on Hannah's care accused her of using a disabled parking spot illegitimately.
‘I did not see a disabled [person] get out of your car. (Credit: supplied)

I feel on edge whenever I take Caleb out in case someone causes a scene. I’m sick of constantly being judged, I thought, tears welling in my eyes. I made an emotional video and posted it on Facebook. I also set up a page, ‘Not all disabilities look like this’, adding the wheelchair icon. The reaction was overwhelming. So many people have contacted me to share similar stories.

Alexis and Caleb
Alexis and Caleb (Credit: supplied)

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