A BRACKNELL mum says her family feels “cut off from normal society” after the council refused to give her autistic son a blue badge.

The parking permit application for her four-year-old son, who has “zero awareness of danger” and “is like a one-year-old in a four-year-old’s body”, was rejected by Bracknell Forest Council (BFC) in September 2019.

This made life hard for the mother, who did not want to be named, as it means being “on edge” whenever the family goes out.

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She told the News: “We’re having to forward think every possible outcome or issue that could crop up.

“It’s exhausting having to do that.

“We tend to avoid it where we can. We never enjoy going out because we’re always on edge waiting for something to happen.

“We feel very isolated and cut off from normal society and our boys don’t get to go out and experience things which I think is very unfair.”

The mother, who has an older son who is also autistic, said there had been “many instances” before lockdown where both children have run off in different directions in the middle of busy car parks.

Because she cannot very often not get parent-and-child car parking spaces — especially at Bracknell Leisure Centre — this means she often has to park “quite far away”.

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A blue badge parking permit would mean the family is able to park closer to where they are heading.

The mum added: “Unless I know I can park somewhere safely we won’t go places.

“And often that just means we don’t go.

“I can’t put them in the car, turn up somewhere and leave as there is nowhere to park.

“It takes a lot to get the boys out and prepared to be out.”

Bracknell News:

The family’s struggle is one similar to other families in Bracknell Forest who have seen their blue badge applications refused.

In April, the News reported how a Binfield mother was ‘devastated’ after her autistic son’s blue badge plea was thrown out by BFC.

Earlier this month, parents from Harmans Water told the News about the difficulties they have been through without a blue badge after an application for their 25-year-old autistic son was also dismissed by the council.

On all three occasions, BFC refused the pleas after telling parents they had not provided enough evidence a blue badge was needed for their children.

Responding to this Bracknell family’s case, Melanie O’Rourke, an assistant director at BFC, said: “We cannot comment on individual cases however we will work with the family to review their application”.

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For previous blue badge decisions, BFC told the News applications officers only make a decision based on the evidence provided against a “strict” set of criteria from the Department for Transport (DfT).

The DfT introduced new legislation in August 2019 designed to make blue badges more accessible for people with hidden disabilities such as autism, arthritis, dementia and more.

The Bracknell mother thought this new support would make it easier for her son to be granted the permit, but this was not the case.

Bracknell News:

She added: “It’s absolutely pointless. It doesn’t make things easier, it makes things even harder for a group of people who get barely any help.

“With physical disabilities, people can see it. But with hidden disabilities, people don’t understand the impact they have on everyday life.

“The new legislation was supposed to make it easier for people with hidden disabilities to get a blue badge and to help them go out.

“There are no appeals, so you can’t challenge the decision. It’s basically: ‘This is our decision. Until you’ve got new evidence, go away’.

“As a special educational needs parent, you have to fight for everything.”