People with a hidden disability have the right to be treated with respect, understanding and human kindness

Guest blog by Ben McCay, self advocate, Learning Disability England spokesperson and Co-Chair of the Trustees for My Life My Choice

I am Ben McCay and since birth I have had hidden disabilities.

Most people think of disabled people as in wheelchairs. But the fact is there are many forms of disabilities and it varies from each individual person.

People with hidden disabilities get discriminated against all the time when they are out about mixing with the general public, as they do not know that we are disabled. We are often thought of as rude and ignorant, that we do not care.

This typical general perception is true of most people we meet.

Because of this I have been pushed and shoved when walking outside and people do not give me space to move.

It is worse when getting on and off trains and London underground. I have nearly fallen over quite few times, not be allowed time to board safely.

I cannot stand for long periods, but people are reluctant to give you their seats. Even on the buses when they‘re seated in the disabled / elderly seats.

I wear a blue badge now when going on the trains and underground which says ‘please give your seat up for me’ but with mixed results.

I do not enjoy going shopping. People are always invading my personal space. In the past people have not given me time to pack my shopping before I pay, and then they get right on top me as go to pay.

I am never given time or space to do anything at my pace when I leave my house.

This situation is not right. It is not fair. It is discrimination. More awareness still needs to be done.

There was nothing before sunflower hidden disability scheme got started and there is still not much publicity about this. Most of the publicity is only for the benefit of staff in the place that has joined the scheme.

People need to be more aware how their actions can make life difficult for people with hidden disabilities. They need to stop and think.

So next time you are out and about, please just take a minute to ask yourself whether that person in front of you in the queue or next to you on the bus might have hidden disabilities.

People with a hidden disability have the right to be treated with respect, understanding and human kindness.