IF you see Darren Page staring into the distance, momentarily unable to talk, don’t assume he’s a criminal or substance abuser.
Mr Page, like many other people in Orange, has a disability, and at times it’s hard for him to communicate.
Having had partial epileptic seizures for the past 20 years, Mr Page was fitted with a Vagus nerve stimulator to help control his condition, one of the side effects is that the device affects the tone of his voice, making him sound congested.
“People keep asking me if I’ve got a cold and that’s really hard when it happens all the time,” Mr Page said.
Despite the benefits of the Vagus nerve stimulator, the device hasn’t stopped the seizures from occurring but it has reduced their veracity.
“I can’t talk to people when I’m having a seizure, and people just look at me and think I have some sort of unusual problem because sometimes I just walk around without saying anything,” he said.
Mr Page said he’d lived a “relatively normal life” until an accident in 1986 when tests found he had epilepsy, since then the seizures have continued to impact his ability to communicate.
Last week Mr Page had a partial seizure while in a takeaway food shop in Orange and staff called the police.
This is the third time in recent years that people, confused by Mr Page’s behaviour, have called the police.
“I get quite annoyed because I can’t stop them calling the police, I’m out of it,” he said.
“I think people should be more understanding about people with disabilities.”
Mr Page said rather than calling police, staff should have comforted him.
“I’m not violent,” he said.
“I don’t dress rough, look rough or act rough ... that’s just not me.”
Mr Page said while his parents, who live at Nelson Bay, have been supportive of his condition, many of his old friends have turned their backs on him.
“I’m on my own, and I don’t know why, my friends don’t ring me or come and see me,”
Mr Page said he wants to make a plea for the community’s understanding of his condition and compassion in helping him go about his daily life.
“I’m a friendly caring person,” he said.
Mr Page works at Wangarang Industries and is studying at TAFE.