Invisible Disabilities

If you can’t see it, it’s not real.  Right?  But we don’t see the air that we can feel in our lungs.  We don’t see the wind that we can feel on our skin and blow our hair.  And the same goes for people with disabilities that we (society) can’t see, they can feel them and the pain that can be associated with them.

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.  Furthermore, “A person is considered to have a disability if he or she has difficulty performing certain functions (seeing, hearing, talking, walking, climbing stairs and lifting and carrying), or has difficulty performing activities of daily living, or has difficulty with certain social roles (doing school work for children, working at a job and around the house for adults)” (Disabilities Affect One-Fifth of All Americans).

When society thinks of disabilities they usually visualize individuals who use wheelchairs and or another mobility device.  This is very far from the truth.  In 1995, 75% of people with disabilities were not using a wheelchair or mobility device (Americans with Disabilities 94-95).  Society has this idea due to our media and what it depicts as “disabled”.  The media uses people who are wheelchair users or use another mobility device (walker, cane, etc.) because society doesn’t have to question the image.  If the media used a picture of a person with an invisible disability the person would look “normal” and society would then question the image of whether it was false because the person doesn’t “look disabled.”  As we all know, people are fast to judge people (not only in the media but in our communities) by how they look.  Some people have a hard time “believing” that a person has a disabilities because they look “normal” or “fine”.

Some invisible disabilities (not an exclusive list):
Asperger Syndrome
Bipolar Disorder
Brain Injury
Chronic Fatigue
Chronic Pain
Crohn’s Disease
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Lyme Disease
Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
Rheumatoid Arthritis

I think we all need to be reminded that people have more going on in their lives than what we can see.  And we should never assume or judge a person by his/her looks.  Don’t forget, looks can be deceiving and just because a person looks good doesn’t mean they feel good.



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