Lauren Rowe: ‘Not everyone with a disability has a wheelchair’

Lauren Rowe is making a splash on Facebook by sharing her story. Picture: Jeff McGill

Lauren Rowe is making a splash on Facebook by sharing her story. Picture: Jeff McGill

Last night Lauren Rowe took to Facebook after a person left a note on her windshield suggesting she was inconsiderate for parking in a disabled spot.

Ms Rowe suffers diabetes, osteoporosis and two failing donated lungs, but to the uninformed bystander looks like a healthy young woman.

Her post had been shared almost 2500 times in thirteen hours, and liked more than 4000 times. 

Lauren Rowe's post to Facebook last night.

Lauren Rowe's post to Facebook last night.

Seeing the support flooding through for herself and her cause, Ms Rowe told the Advertiser she was blown away.

“The support has been wonderful and awful at the same time,” she said.

“I’ve read a lot of responses and it seems this sort of behaviour is quite a common thing.

“I’ve read that people are too afraid to park in disabled spots because of the looks and abuse they receive, even though they have their stickers.

“And it’s not just notes like mine, people have had their cars keyed.”

Lauren Rowe is a supported of CF Swim Macarthur. Picture: Jeff McGill

Lauren Rowe is a supported of CF Swim Macarthur. Picture: Jeff McGill

On the Advertiser’s Facebook page this morning, reader Philippa Stewart shared a similar experience.

“As someone who also has "invisible illness" and often gotten death stares from people when I have used my sticker (I don't often use it) I can relate,” she wrote.

“I will often park in normal spots to avoid the death stares.”

Michelle Lind agreed: “I get exactly the same thing. I have MS and park in them on really bad days and i have been abused by people ‘cause I’m not old or in a wheelchair ... if only people knew.”

Ms Rowe said she hopes her post, and the dialogue it has created on Facebook, will encourage people like the woman who left the note to be more open-minded.

“I don’t know what’s going on with other people, so I ask that others please understand that there might be something going on with me underneath what they can see,” she said.

“There are so many people with invisible illnesses, that to look at seem healthy

“Not everyone that has a disability sticker has a wheelchair.”

Lesley Coates posted this image in response to Lauren Rowe's story on Facebook.

Lesley Coates posted this image in response to Lauren Rowe's story on Facebook.

The well-known symbol of disability – on stickers and parking spaces – depicts a wheelchair, and Ms Rowe said this had spurred some Facebook users to suggest a new symbol might be needed.

“A couple of people have suggested there should be stickers with different symbols, not someone in a wheelchair,” she said.

“Not that I agree or disagree with that, but I think it’s great people are taking the initiative to talk about it – it’s really powerful.

“That’s the beauty of social media platforms, they give people a chance to get their voice out there, to explain their situations and share their experiences.”

A still from Lauren Rowe's YouTube video - 'Things Transplant Recipients Never Say'.

A still from Lauren Rowe's YouTube video - 'Things Transplant Recipients Never Say'.

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