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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Mum of disabled toddler shocked after note left on her car accusing her of having 'fraudulent' disabled badge

The note that was placed on Siobhan's car
Pic: Ryan Tubridy/RTE Radio One
The note that was placed on Siobhan's car Pic: Ryan Tubridy/RTE Radio One

A mum of a disabled toddler has told of her shock after somebody accused her of a parking in a disabled spot unnecessarily and threatened to report her to gardai.

Mum Siobhan told RTE Radio One's Ryan Tubridy about the experience on his show earlier today.

Siobhan is mum to Robert (3), who has Cerebral Palsy, Cystic Fibrosis and sensory processing problems.

Siobhan and her husband drove up from their home in Mayo to Dublin on Saturday so that their son could attend a session with an occupational therapist.

Afterwards they drove to a coffee shop near Carrickmines in South Dublin, and parked in a disabled spot there, so they could have their lunch. Robert does not eat orally, and is fed through a tube. The family popped into a coffee shop they use regularly when in Dublin.

When they returned to their car, they found a note on their windscreen which read: "Having a child does not entitle you to use a disabled parking bay. Consider those less able. I have photographed the disabled badge and reporting your fraudulent use of same to gardai."

Siobhan spoke out today in the hope the 'note-leaver' might hear their side of the story, and think twice before leaving such notes again.

She told Ryan their gorgeous little boy had a "stormy neo-natal period" following his premature birth in September 2010. Robert arrived into the world ten weeks early, she said.

"He had as the doctors in Temple Street would describe as a "stormy neo-natal period". We were five months in hospital with Robert. He had a brain haemorrage before he was born and we knew that.

"But two weeks after he was born, he was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis.

"He was also diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at six months of age. And I suppose, again it wasn't a surprise, it was just a term to wrap up in a bow if you like to wrap all of Robert's complications.

"To us, he's Robert. He's our little boy and we love him to bits.

"It's only when I sat down to write the email to you, and that you see on paper his list of diagnoses, you kind of go 'wow - okay, he's got a lot going on'.

"But day to day, to us, he's a three-year-old little monkey who you have to keep your eye on all the time. Who is full of divilment and fun, and so that's how we see Robert.

""He's infectious. Every mum thinks their child is special but Robert is the type of kid who lights up a room when he goes into it. You can't help but be drawn to him."

The family travelled up to Dublin on Saturday.

"We take Robert to an OT (Occupational Therapist) in Stepaside. So we had a session on Saturday and afterwards we gave Robert his lunch. Robert doesn't eat orally. He's fed with a tube. So it's not straightforward - you can't just chuck a sandwich into the back of a car and let him munch away.... it's a little more complex than that."

They pulled into a parking facility in Carrickmines.

"We went into a coffee shop there that we've been to before plenty of times because it's got good access for his buggy and it's a nice quiet place.

"Robert has sensory processing problems so noisy environments can sometimes freak him out and he can react badly. We kind of pick and choose where we bring him, especially for his lunch.

"So we parked up in a disability spot and Robert has been assessed for a disability badge and has received a disability badge. So we use that on the basis when he's in the car with us to try, and you know, make it easier taking him in and out of the car. He has to be lifted out of the car and lifted back into the car

"We came back to the car and someone had left a note on our car window. The note read: "Having a child does not entitle you to use a disabled parking bay. Consider those less able. I have photographed the disabled badge and reporting your fraudulent use of same to gardai."

"It was written on a compliment slip.

"It was stuck on the driver's window," she said.

Siobhan's husband read the note first before scrunching it up, telling his wife not to worry about it.

"So I got the note and I read it and I'm just so shocked."

Siobhan said there was a parking attendant near by. The family went over and explained the situation. The attendant said they had nothing to worry about and they were entitled to park there.

Siobhan said she decided to contact Tubridy about the note on a point of principle.

""It's not just adults who have disabilities. It's not just drivers. Children have disabilities too. You know, they're not always obvious, but they're there. People don't get those badges in the local newsagents. You can't just pick them up like a postcard. You go through a rigorous process.

"What was really hurtful for us was.... the intent. They got a compliments slip and took the heading off it the top so you couldn't track them down. And so that intent is just shocking to me.

""We kind of felt attacked in a way. The person had obviously seen us pick Robert out of the car and walk away from our car and made a judgment.

"If they had the gumption to come up and ask us 'what are you doing', we would have explained the situation to them. We don't hide Robert's disabilities.

"We're just so delighted to have him with us because we had lost him so many times while he was in Temple Street. We had given up counting the amount of times he had to be resuscitated.

"Robert kept having respiratory arrests when he was in Temple Street," she explained.

"We stopped counting at about the sixth time when it happened.

"It really has [got under my skin]. We felt judged. We felt Robert had been judged. That's not a nice feeling. He's a little boy.

"Maybe the person might hear this and see the other side of the story and might think twice in the future."

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