Post Mortem

Invisible disabilities

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 1/14/2020 11:32:39 AM IST

 Disabilities is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. An impairment is a problem in body function or structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action; while a participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations. Disability is thus not just a health problem. It is a complex phenomenon, reflecting the interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which he or she lives. Overcoming the difficulties faced by people with disabilities requires interventions to remove environmental and social barriers.

People with disabilities have the same health needs as non-disabled people – for immunization, cancer screening etc. They also may experience a narrower margin of health, both because of poverty and social exclusion, and also because they may be vulnerable to secondary conditions, such as pressure sores or urinary tract infections. Evidence suggests that people with disabilities face barriers in accessing the health and rehabilitation services they need in many settings.
World Health Organisation
There are disabilities that are visible to the naked eye and present themselves in physical form. And likewise, there are also Invisible disabilities that does not appear to be visible to the naked eye and does not present themselves in physical forms. Our present society’s unreflective views about disability is exposed when we try to look closely and consider what describes disability as “invisible”. Many a times these people with invisible disabilities are viewed as “strange” and “off” to the people they come across, when actually as a matter of fact they are dealing with a disability that makes them act that certain way. And to understand the difference between these two disabilities is learningwhat it might mean to describe a disability as “invisible”. The category of conditions that falls under “invisible disabilities” is undeniably vast and large in its own field. It is an umbrella term that captures a whole spectrum of hidden disabilities or challenges that are primarily neurological in nature. 
List of SOME disabilities considered invisible disabilities
• ADHD • Depression 
• Anxiety disorders • Diabetes 
• Allergies • Epilepsy 
• Asthma • Food allergies 
• Autism • Inflammatory bowel disease 
• Brain injuries • Irritable Bowel Syndrome 
• Chronic pain • Lactose Intolerance 
• Sleep disorders • Lyme Disease 
• Migraines • Multiple Sclerosis 
 
Generally seeing a person in a wheelchair, wearing a hearing aid, or carrying a white cane tells us a person may be disabled. But what about invisible disabilities that make daily living a bit more difficult for many people worldwide.  Invisible disabilities can significantly impair normal activities of daily living. 
For example there are people with visual or auditory impairments who do not wear hearing aids or eye glasses so they may not seem to be obviously impaired. Those with joint conditions or problems who suffer chronic pain may not use any type of mobility aids on good days, or ever. Although the disability creates a challenge for the person who has it, the reality of the disability can be difficult for others to recognize or acknowledge. Others may not understand the cause of the problem, if they cannot see evidence of it in a visible way. 
In most of the developed countries, a growing number of organizations, governments, and institutions has implemented policies and regulations to accommodate persons with invisible disabilities. Governments and school boards have implemented screening tests to identify students with learning disabilities, as well as other invisible disabilities, such as vision or hearing difficulties, or problems in cognitive ability, motor skills, or social or emotional development. If a hidden disability is identified, resources can be used to place a child in a special education program that will help them progress in school.
In most situations people are more accepting of individuals that have visible disabilities, as they can clearly see that they have a weakness that hinders the way they interact with others. However, individuals that have invisible disabilities may suffer from bullying and being misunderstood because to the naked eye, they may seem as though they do not have a disability. Parents of children with invisible disabilities such as Autism & ADHD are often seen as “bad parents” who fail to discipline their children or who let the kids get away with “inappropriate behaviours” by the society. Thus it is important for us as a society living together to be aware and informed on the invisible disabilities, understanding the struggle and ways in which we can help these individuals to cope with their disabilities and limitations of daily activities better. It is important to note that we should never assume whether someone does or does not have a disability, as it can be imperceptible and indistinguishable. Remember to be patient, treat others with kindness and to stand up for others when they may need your help. Just because the disability is not evident does not mean it does not exist. Be kind to everyone!
(Ref; www.disabledwordorg.com Invisible Disability 2005 Ann Davis Law Journal Article)
Henwasin Sweety Lorin, Audiologist & Speech Language Pathologist, 
DEIC-NHAK

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