The handicapped placard is one of the easiest and most effective ways of managing life with a disability, yet many people with MS are hesitant to take advantage of this powerful tool.
Those of us with Relapsing/Remitting MS may feel that we are undeserving of the placard, since our disabilities are often invisible. We may be fearful of what others think of us. Will they stare at us? Will they think we are abusing the system? Some people may think that by applying for the placard they are giving in to defeat. None of these are valid reasons for not taking that step. Far from giving in, it is just one more way to maintain control of your life.
You can get information and the application online from the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state. A physician's signature will be required. You can opt for the license plate or the placard which hangs from the rear view mirror. I suggest the latter.
Once you have the placard in your possession, you can put it in your glove compartment and forget about it until it is needed. If it serves as nothing more than a backup in an emergency, it will have done its job.
If you are a passenger in someone else's car, you can take the placard along with you. It belongs to you, not the car. No need to worry about traveling because they are legal throughout the country.
When walking is difficult or your energy supply is low, the “perk” of parking closer to the entrance will allow you to complete your task more comfortably. It can make all the difference in your day. There is no need to give in to self-imposed guilt. You have MS (or some other disability) and this is one more way that you can hang on to your independence. That's not only good for you, but good for everyone else.
If you experience “the look” from passersby, so what? You have no obligation to explain yourself to anyone. If someone should happen to politely ask, you could use that as a springboard to educate them about your disability a bit. Or not. It's up to you.
There are a few things you should NOT do with your handicapped placard.
- NEVER lend it to someone else. It is illegal and just plain wrong.
- NEVER drive with it hanging on the rearview mirror -- it will block your view. Take it off when exiting the parking space.
- Don't use it when you don't really need it. Save the handicapped space for someone who does need it and get some much needed exercise.
Published On: February 08, 2008