Invisible Disabilities Week – October 2021

Invisible Disabilities

The word “disability” is generally used as a catchall term for all physical and mental conditions that limit the senses, mobility or a person’s ability to engage in certain activities. Often people perceived to have a disability are seen as different or in some way inferior to able-bodied people.

In recent years, there has been a societal shift towards a greater understanding, support and acceptance of people with disabilities. While there is still a long way to go, initiatives such as Football Your Way, the Football Associations scheme to increase the number of people playing disability football by 50% in three years. Or greater inclusion of people with disabilities on prime time TV shows, for example, comedian Alex Brooker and TV presenter, Ade Adepitan.

However, disease or illness that others can’t see, can be just as disabling but often are not treated with the same level of sensitivity. Invisible diseases can include many conditions. Below are some common ones:
• Asthma
• Autism
• Diabetes
• Dyslexia and other learning disabilities
• Endometriosis
• Fibromyalgia
• Hepatitis C
• Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
• Mental illness, such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, and depression
• Migraine
• Multiple sclerosis

Things People With Invisible Illness May Do

1. Seem obsessed with logistics when making social plans
They may need to know if there is easy access to a toilet. How long a walk will be? Will there be time to rest?

2. Wear sunglasses inside
People suffering from migraines, or other light-sensitive conditions, may need to keep sunglasses on indoors.

3. Use handicapped parking even though they “look healthy”
Fatigue and chronic pain are just two conditions that may not be outwardly obvious.

4. Cancel plans at the last minute
The unpredictability and varying symptoms of invisible conditions, whether physical, cognitive, or mental, can interrupt plans.

5. Bring an assistance animal such as a dog on a plane or into a supermarket
While many people are aware of assistance dogs aiding those with vision challenges, they can also help those with other conditions. For instance, service animals might alert their owner of a seizure or significant changes in blood sugar levels.

Invisible Disabilities Week, Oct 17 – 23, 2021, aims to bring awareness to spread awareness, education, and support around the world for those living with invisible disabilities. Find out more HERE.