So I came across the possibility that I may be able to get a handicapped parking permit for my son on one of the blogs I follow: Autism Daddy - Handicap Permit. I was skeptical at first but I got all the required signatures and sent it off. I got the placard in the mail yesterday! There are two boxes that apply to some in the Autism community:
1. "cannot walk without the use of, or assistance from, a brace, cane, crutch, another person, prosthetic device, wheelchair or other assistive device."
2. "is severely limited in his or her ability to walk due to an arthritic, neurological or orthopedic condition."
Well if anyone has ever watched me cross a parking lot with my son then you’ve noticed the white knuckled death grip I have on his arm. Due to his tendency to dart off and run away as well as his total disregard to the concept of safety, parking lots are a huge issue. I will say, if given the choice between walking ½ a mile to the store or taking a handicap spot with him, I much prefer the handicap spot. Now I wouldn’t use it all the time. Usually where we go there tends to be decent parking spots available. But it’s nice to have for those instances where it really will make a difference.
He definitely qualifies as unable to walk without the assistance of another person because he does need to be held on to for his own safety. Also, Autism is a neurological disorder. He fits the criteria and I am so thankful that such a thing is possible. He is far too impulsive and years of therapy on safety just aren’t breaking the surface still. He runs into parking lots, opens the door while the car is still moving, unbuckles himself on the highway... And that’s just road stuff!
In Pennsylvania the placard is temporary and is only good for 6 months. After that 6 months is up another one can be issued. For whatever reason you can’t simply renew it like the permanent ones. I guess they fail to recognize Autism as a permanent disability....
I would encourage those in a similar situation to explore this option, even if your child has a different disability than ASD that wouldn’t necessarily stand out as needing this extra help, such as Down Syndrome. I’m also told we can get to the front of the line in amusement parks by asking about a special wristband when you pay for admittance. We will have to check that one out too. Let me know if you have any success!