Hidden / Invisible Disabilities
What Are Some Common Hidden Disabilities?
- Psychiatric Disabilities—Examples include major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc.
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Attention Deficit-Disrorder or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder(ADD/ADHD)
- Learning Disabilities (LD)
- Medical conditions associated with hidden disabilities. Examples include short or long term, stable or progress, constant or unpredictable and fluctuating, controlled by medication and untreatable.
Common Denominators: What do Hidden Disabilities have in common?
- One is unable to “see” the disability.
- There are no “visible” supports to indicate a disability such as canes, wheelchairs, use or sign language used.
- It is a permanent disability that they cope with on a daily basis.
- The disability may be managed through medication or behavior such as in the case of diabetes, asthma, epilepsy or psychiatric disorders.
- It needs to be a documented disability in order to receive reasonable accommodations under the ADA.
- The person is in some kind of physical or emotional pain.
Challenges for a person with a hidden disability:
- They may not know they have a disability or regard themselves as such.
- They may not have been diagnosed.
- They may not know what they need.
- They may know what they need, but are unable to articulate it.
- They may often feel misunderstood or may feel ignored or feel invalidated.
- They may suspect something is wrong, but not know what it is or how to fix it.
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