Experiencing Disability Discrimination

Have you ever had someone look at you, and not believe that you have Multiple Sclerosis, or something similar? Have you ever had to show proof that you are, in fact, considered disabled, due to Multiple Sclerosis? I’m not talking about showing proof where it’s required, but just in your local community, with people you are around.

This is something that I have had to deal with in the past. If someone doesn’t know that I have MS, and they are around me in a conversation, and my husband asks me if I’m feeling okay, do I need to rest, etc. They first off think I’m sick… but when they learn I have Multiple Sclerosis, the face they make when they hear that coming from me, can be pretty comical at times. They give me this look of shock, some of the time. Full on jaw dropping sort of shock, where you know they are thinking, there is no way that is true.

Discrimination and disability

I never thought that after I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, that one of the things that I would deal with is being discriminated against due to a disability. I never thought that I would deal with people just trying to sell me bogus ideas, or judge me. There is a long list I’ve made in the past on what NOT to say to someone with Multiple Sclerosis. Click here to read that list.

Anyway, in today’s society you hear about discrimination against race, gender, religion, etc. However, you don’t ever hear the disabled brought up in regards to discrimination. Why is that? Is it because it doesn’t exist? Well for me, unfortunately, it has happened on multiple occasions. Getting told off for using my handicapped-parking placard when it’s 115 outside at the grocery store… Not being able to walk a straight line, due to vision/vertigo and gait issues. Being told I’m just lazy, or I’ve had too much to drink, and that I’m not really disabled really hurts. I didn’t ask for this, it’s already hard as it is, and people just add to it with their judgments.

Not just physical symptoms

For being called ‘retarded’ because my cognitive function is not ‘normal’ and I can’t think of easy things like I used to or I’m not able to understand a simple sentence. When I’m not able to get the words out of my mouth, which I have formed in my brain. Being made fun of for that is just despicable. I don’t have control over how my body is affected and being treated like I’m the cause of the problem, that I did something to be this way, is just very hurtful.

When I was using assistive devices, I felt like I was being discriminated against. I’ve had notes left on my car for parking in the handicapped spot. I never told anyone this, but one time I needed to use a scooter that was provided by the local store and I was asked to leave for abusing the store’s property. That the scooters are not there for joy rides. Now, when I get emotional in any way, my thought process does not want to work correctly either, so I just sit there dumb founded, not able to even come up with a response.

People are quick to judge

I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of people are just really judgmental, and are quick to jump to assumptions without even knowing any facts at all. Just because I’m in my late-20’s and “look healthy” doesn’t mean that life is perfect and I don’t have any issues. This sad part is, that the reason people believe that I might be ‘abusing’ a handicapped placard, or an assistive device, is because there are people out there that DO abuse these things. So the people that are actually in need of these things suffer the consequences of people that have poor judgment.

I don’t really know if this could be classified as discrimination or not, but do you understand what I’m talking about? I have to carry my handicapped permit with me when I’m out and about, in case I get confronted assuming I’m abusing the system.

Not only that, but I have to deal with the emotional effects of any sort of confrontation, which in turn causes issues with my MS symptoms. I get fatigued, I get a migraine, and I get weak. Because I used all my energy I saved up to go out in public, and had to use it on defending myself, instead of completing what I set out to do in the first place.

I’ve just realized that I’ve already written about this issue a while back (sorry, memory issues) but I believe that this is something that needs to be brought to the attention of many people. To read my previous article on this topic, click here.

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Ashley Ringstaff

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