We've all seen it before. A well-abled young person parks in a handicapped spot and walks right into the store.

No walkers, no wheelchairs, nothing. And the first thought through your head might be to judge and shame that person. How dare they park there when someone else who truly needs that spot now must park elsewhere?

You might also try to see if there are any handicap tags or plates associated with the vehicle. But even if there is, you might assume that that particular driver might be borrowing the vehicle from their grandparents or something.

And I have to tell you, it's perfectly normal to make those assumptions. Even when I was younger and just starting out on the roads as a teen driver, I might often think the same thing.

But as you get older, you also get wiser and smarter with the world around you. You also may go through experiences that change the way you think and accept things that in the past you may never have.

handicapped parking space
Dino Flammia, Townsquare Media NJ

My experiences

As a weekend talent, I strive to be as real as possible when I'm behind the mic. I like to share my journey as a parent raising twin sons, as well as the good and bad life may throw at us.

It's also why I've never been shy about my diagnosis of having MS, or Multiple Sclerosis. In fact, 2024 marks eight years since my official diagnosis, but honestly, I know I've had it well before that (Read more about my personal experiences with MS here).

Now I've been very fortunate to have great doctors who have made sure I'm always feeling my best. But I also take personal responsibility to treat this as an active disease, especially since there's no cure.

I'm open about it because I want others to know that they're not alone. It's a very hard thing to talk about for so many over the fear that you might be viewed differently by your friends, family, and co-workers. Just know that I've got your back.


Young and not-so-able

Again, I'm so far fortunate that I'm able to still do what I can do, including writing this very post with my own hands (this disease can be crippling). The average age to get diagnosed is fairly young, and it's not uncommon to get diagnosed in your 30s, sometimes younger.

This disease can also come in waves and hit you like a ton of bricks at any given moment. I myself know someone who is also my age but is in a much worse state with their MS than I am.

They have a service dog as well as a wheelchair in the trunk ready to go. Because of this, they have a handicap tag that allows them to use those spaces whenever they go shopping.

Handicap spot

Able one minute, not the next

Sometimes, this person can walk into a store without any issues. No wheelchair, no service dog. But, that can all change while they're in the store. Even though they walked in under their own power, they might need a wheelchair or motorized scooter from the store to get back.

The disease doesn't mean you can't drive, but it can affect you in ways you won't be able to see on the surface. Even if they are walking back, they may not be able to go far distances without needing to rest. That may be why the car must be close by.

MS is often described as an invisible disease, which I can personally agree with through my own experiences. But there are so many more "invisible" diseases out there that affect younger people you might be aware of.

Parking lot

Try not to judge

Again, you don't know what the person is going through that requires them to park in a handicap spot. Especially those that look young and fully able, you have no idea what experiences they're actually going through.

Believe me, I get it. It's only natural to judge and be critical. But I'm here to tell you that what you see might not be what it seems. Invisible diseases suck, and I'm sure most of us who have it in some form wish we didn't have to deal with it in the first place.

UP NEXT: NJ radio host shares his story about living with MS

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The above post reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 Sunday morning host Mike Brant. Any opinions expressed are his own.

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