Those with ‘hidden disabilities’ such as autism and mental health conditions will now be granted blue badge parking permits allowing them to park closer to their destination. The life-changing news for those on the spectrum was announced by the Department for Transport this week and will come into play in 2019. This change marks the biggest overhaul of the current system in 40 years and will see those with less obvious conditions have the same right to park in disabled bays as those with physical disabilities. The move comes following an eight-week consultation which had more than 6,000 responses. Transport Minister, Jesse Norman, said: “Blue badges are a lifeline to disabled people, giving them the freedom and confidence to get to work and visit friends independently. The changes we have announced will ensure that this scheme is equally extended to people with hidden disabilities so that they can enjoy the freedoms that many of us take for granted.” Parking Extremely Challenging Leaving the house is a challenge for many people on the autistic spectrum, and often involves detailed preparation. The thought of not being able to find a parking space near their destination can cause stress and anxiety. Equally, carers for those with more severe autism or young children on the spectrum, often find parking extremely challenging. Yvonne Crowhurst, head of the Autism Training and Advisory Service at Autism Together, said: “Access to the wider community is everyone’s entitlement. However, those with a hidden condition always appear to be playing catch up with the majority of the population. That’s why we’re fighting so hard for autism-friendly communities. “This new ruling is greatly welcomed. It represents a giant leap forward in ‘hidden disability’ rights for those with autism and other hidden conditions and also their families, friends and other support. It opens the door to greater independence, self-esteem and self-confidence.” The new criteria will extend eligibility to people who: Cannot undertake a journey without there being a risk of serious harm to their health or safety or that of any other person (such as young children with autism) Cannot undertake a journey without it causing them very considerable psychological stress Have very considerable difficulty when walking (both the physical act of walking and experience of walking) The permit costs £10 from authorities and enables you to park in spaces for blue badge holders. In addition, blue badge holders can also park on single or double yellow lines for up to three hours unless there is a “no loading” sign. You can renew or apply for a blue badge at https://www.gov.uk/apply-blue-badge For more information, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.