Invisible Disabilities

The definition of an invisible disability can be described as a physical, mental, or neurological condition that is not visible from the outside and can limit or challenge a person's movements, senses, or activities that significantly impair normal activities of daily living.

Many forms of invisible disabilities exist that may not present signs on the outside of a person. These forms of disabilities can affect a person's bones, muscles, nerves, cells, or cognition, for example. Some of the invisible disabilities in the world today that people experience include brain injury, renal failure, sleep disorders, asthma, arthritis, allergy, chronic fatigue syndrome, epilepsy, diabetes, hearing loss, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, heart disease, lung disease, knee injury, osteoarthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, or multiple chemical sensitivity. These invisible disabilities are only a few examples.

Every person is a unique individual, whether they have a chronic health condition, disability, or not. It is not possible to make generic statements concerning the enablement of all people. Where any type of relationship is concerned, it is vital to consider accommodations and ensure that people are welcomed. Until you know whether or not a person has an invisible disability, you must bear in mind the potential of a disability in others.

People with some kinds of invisible disabilities are often accused of faking or imagining their disabilities. These symptoms can occur due to chronic illness, chronic pain, injury, birth disorders, etc. and are not always apparent to the onlooker. How do people without disabilities know, and what do they do? They often assume people with invisible forms of disabilities can work just as hard, walk as far, or sit as long as people without disabilities simply because people with invisible disabilities 'do not look disabled.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), an individual with a disability is a person who: Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.

Unfortunately, the very fact that these symptoms are invisible can lead to misunderstandings, and false perceptions, and judgments. Often people think the term disability only refers to people using a wheelchair or walker. On the contrary, the 1994-1995 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) found that 26 million Americans (almost 1 in 10) have a severe disability, while only 1.8 million used a wheelchair and 5.2 million used a cane, crutches, or walker (Americans with Disabilities 94-95). In other words, 74% of Americans who live with a severe disability do not use such devices. Therefore, a disability cannot be determined solely by whether or not a person uses assistive equipment.

There are thousands of illnesses, disorders, diseases, dysfunctions, congenital disabilities, impairments, and injuries that can be debilitating. Therefore, all debilitating conditions are taken into consideration when we talk about invisible disabilities.

Having a disability is not a reason or an excuse to not try your best or give an excuse for yourself or your disability. Some people with an Invisible Disability tend to work harder and longer to prove themselves and show others how strong, brave, resilient, and brave they are. These people dismiss their need for self-care and end up suffering more consequences of their disability. By raising awareness that hidden disabilities exist, people will be more likely to share their disabilities with their employer, co-works, and friends, creating a support unit and not shame or discrimination. 

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