How Do You Deal with People Parking Illegally in Disabled Spaces?

Use spaces farther from the door. They might only be a “few yards away” for you, but a few yards can create a huge problem for some people. Those ones farther back are for people who are more mobile. Use them.

If the only available spots are disabled ones, then the car park is full. Kindly try elsewhere.

“Just unloading” or stopping “just a few minutes”, aren’t excuses either – you wouldn’t inconvenience people by stopping in the middle of the road so don’t do it here.

And if you still park illegally, just pray you don’t run into one of our super mums.

“Ugh. . .I just dealt with this last week.  I took Emmy to a kids drum circle.

The parking was horrible and they only had one disabled spot which was filled with a car parked illegally to unload.

They had their hazards on, so I knew immediately it was not someone disabled.

I pulled right up and waited for them to return.

When they did, I told them I needed the spot and it wasn’t cool for him to have parked there. 

He was very apologetic and said he wasn’t parking there, but just unloading.

I told him it was a major inconvenience and to please reconsider doing that again in the future as it wasn’t fair to my child.

I can only hope he thinks twice before doing so again.”

Dawn Hamilton, Emerson’s mum (

“Each year I see a growing number of illegal handicapped parking offenders.

These are the cars that do not possess either a hanging handicapped tag or handicapped license plate.

I found these really great parking ticket/reminders from Braun Ability that I use and leave on cars that are illegally parked.

Most families don’t have time to sit there and call the police to ticket and remove someone from a spot.

There are also great app called the parking mobility app, which allows you to take a picture of an offender and send it to local authorities.

That seems to be growing in popularity.”

Stacy Warden, Noah’s mum (

“If they are in the car I remind them they can’t park there.

If they refuse to move, I take a photo of their car and share it on social networks.

For those not in the car, I leave them a note under their so shield wiper.”

Kara Melissa Sharp, Seb’s mum (

“I have been known to leave notes on windshields saying, ‘You shouldn’t be parking in this spot if you do not have a decal.’

But it’s important to remember that you can’t tell by looking whether or not a person is disabled.”

Ellen Seidman, Max’s mum (

“If I catch them I speak to them about it, or I will leave a note on the car. At my kid’s school I spoke to the principal.”

Hayley Young, Henry’s mum

Welcome to Holland

“When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans.

The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian.

It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go.

Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”

“Holland?!?” you say.

“What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy!

I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

But there’s been a change in the flight plan.

They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease.

It’s just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books.

And you must learn a whole new language.

And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place.

It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy.

But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips.

Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there.

And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.”

Emily Perl Kingsley


Progress on New Supermarket Trolleys for Kids with Disabilities

Supermum Stacie recently hit the airwaves on BBC Radio 4 to raise more awareness.

You can hear the feature here.

It was really nice to see the difference our trolley seat will make to special needs mums and dads in the supermarkets.

So watch this space!

Big thanks to Sainsbury’s for starting to address the issue and helping to promote special needs family participation.

If you would like to know more about Stacie Lewis check out her facebook here.

International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health for Children and Youth (ICF-CY)

The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health for Children and Youth (ICF-CY) is an internationally recognised framework for children and youth derived from the ICF aimed specifically at children and young people up to the age of 17.

It is designed ‘to record the characteristics of the developing child and the influence of its surrounding environment.’ (World Health Organisation, 2007)

This means that health and function are emphasised, and disability or difficulties with function are viewed simply as part of the overall health spectrum.

The focus is balanced between what children and young people are able to do as well as what they have difficulty with.

The overall model is below:

The health conditon is generally considered the child’s diagnosis – this could be ‘asthma’ equally it could be ‘cerebral palsy’.

Body structures and functions relate to the health condition and describe what is wrong with the body. This may be wheezing (for asthma) or high muscle tone (for cerebral palsy).

The body functions and structures affect the child’s activity.

Does the child become short of breath? Can the child rise to stand and walk?

What is the child capable of doing?

Activity impacts on the child’s level of participation in everyday activities such as playing, eating, dressing, cycling, going to the shops, involvement in sports etc.

Alongside these factors is the acknowledgement that the child’s environment and individual personal factors influence their development.

Parents, siblings, motivation, cognitive ability, housing, infrastructure of local health and education services, and access to sports and leisure facilities are a few of the environmental and personal factors that may impact on a child’s development in each area.

MAP – Mobility, Activity and Participation is Firefly’s own framework for understanding how products can help children and disabilities.

With the child, their family and the products at the centre of the model, their developmental progress is influenced by mobility, ability and participation.

For example, by using a product to stretch muscles (body functions and structures in the ICF-CY), we may actually improve mobility which we define as a child being able to access their world and gain as much independence as possible.

And of course, products which move will encourage mobility too!

A product might encourage a child to develop hand function, concentration or communication (activities in the ICF-CY).

We have termed this ability, which we define as improving physical, cognitive and social development.

Similarly to the ICF-CY, we have defined participation as being able to experience as many activities as possible.

Download the full International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health – Children & Youth Version

Special Needs Parenting: My Letter to a Future Employer

When we talk about ourselves, it’s to discuss our thoughts and feelings about our children, or to share tips or ask this wonderful community for help in overcoming the obstacles our children face.

We talk about siblings and partners and grandparents and friends, all in the context of our beautiful children.

And that’s great, because it demonstrates the depth of our love and care – right?

Whilst all of that is undoubtedly true, and our love and concern for our children knows no bounds, one could argue that this level of focus isn’t always healthy.

If we don’t take time out (like all parents must) for ourselves, for our partners/friends/parents/siblings etc…we will eventually burn out and won’t be any good to anyone.

The trouble is, the special needs of our special children are so pervasive that it’s hard to separate them from any other considerations.

This is my current dilemma.

I have just completed my MBA (hold for applause… thank you!), and it’s time to start thinking about what comes next for me.

Before Charlie was born, I held fairly senior management roles that involved lots of overtime and travel.

DH (Dear Husband) has a similarly demanding position.

With Charlie in the mix, there’s just no way that we can both sustain roles at that level without compromising the quality of her care, which we simply aren’t prepared to do.

My MBA was the middle ground we had been looking for.

I’d been meaning to upskill for years, and study gave me a great opportunity to be there for Charlie and still pursue some goals for myself.

Now that’s over, so…. What comes next?

This is a dilemma faced by most parents of young children.

The choice between working and staying at home, balancing the need to earn an income against the cost of quality child care… this isn’t new.

The difference is that neurotypical children reach an age where they become more independent, where systems like before and after school activity programs start to come into play, allowing us as parents to consider all of our newfound free time and what we’d like to do with it.

Charlie, on the other hand, is not gaining independence.

At least not in any way that would lessen her need for me.

Her physical needs are only increasing as she grows, and she is also outgrowing the child care options that we may have had in the past.

She will go on to ‘big school’ someday soon, but there’ll be no walking to school or to the bus stop for her, and likely no after school activities beyond therapies (for which I must of course be present).

Right now, the jobs I’m applying for are giving me feedback like “you’re overqualified”, or “the employer feels you’ll be looking for something more senior and doesn’t want to invest in a flight risk”.  Ouch.

So… here’s my far-too-honest letter to prospective employers:

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am an MBA graduate with ten years’ sales and marketing management experience looking for a new role.

I have been out of the workforce for six years whilst studying, caring for my young family, and specifically meeting the complex needs of my daughter, who has a life limiting disability.

I realise that the role on offer is perhaps a few steps below my previous positions, but let me assure you that this is a conscious choice on my part and that I don’t intend to ‘leave for something better as soon as I have the chance’.

I will be a valuable asset to your company and am prepared to embark upon a loyal two-way relationship of give and take (assuming that they still exist in the current climate).

What I can offer you:

Long term loyalty, reliability and flexibility, qualifications and experience beyond what is required for the role (or represented in the salary).

What I need from you:

Long term loyalty, reliability and flexibility, understanding and acceptance.

The downside:

There will be hospital and therapy appointments that I need to attend, and it’s possible that I may need extra carers’ leave from time to time.

I may ask for more flexible start and finish times because of child care issues, which are not so simple with a special needs child.

I may even have to leave the office with little notice, but probably no more than any other parent.

The upside:

Aside from my professional skills and experience, my personal circumstances have made me an expert multi tasker, a seasoned negotiator, an assertive advocate, a persistent goal-setter, and given me patience and perseverance beyond that of my younger self.

I am often working and online in the middle of the night and you can be assured that any shortfall in terms of effort or hours will always be made up by me.

I will be appreciative of your flexibility and understanding and you will see that reflected in my output.

…what do you think?

Any takers?