Thousands of people living with ataxia are often mistaken for being drunk. In the initial stages of the condition, people’s walking and speech are affected, making them stumble and slur. Consequentially, they’re often denied access to public places because of what is misunderstood as disorderly behaviour.
This lack of ataxia awareness in the UK has an astonishing impact on people living with the condition. Their confidence, self-esteem and willingness to socialise is constantly challenged. Even the ability to leave the house, go abroad or drive a car without being mistakenly arrested for being under the influence can go out of the window.
“When entering a Sainsbury’s, I staggered into a pile of baskets, and the watching security guard raised his eyebrows with a knowing look. I stammered, ‘it’s okay I’m not drunk, but I have ataxia,’ to which he responded laconically, ‘whatever floats your boat mate.’ So embarrassed.” – Friend of Ataxia
No-one deserves to experience discrimination or prejudice.
That is why in Summer 2019, with your help we raised £1,500 towards purchasing an ID card printing machine to create new ID cards for Friends of Ataxia UK. These cards will be made of robust material with a professional design explaining the condition, symptoms and includes the number of our helpline. These can be presented to members of the general public and healthcare professionals to help reduce misunderstandings or enable easier communication about ataxia.
We hope to release the new ID cards before the end of the year. For now, read more about the successful appeal and stories from our Friends of the barriers they have faced.