An invisible disability is a disability that is not (always) immediately apparent to casual observers; that is, it is not visible to the naked eye.
"The term Invisible Disabilities refers to a person's symptoms such as extreme fatigue, dizziness, pain, weakness, cognitive impairments, etc. that are sometimes or always debilitating. These symptoms can occur due to chronic illness, chronic pain, injury, birth disorders, etc. and are not always obvious to the onlooker. A person can have an invisible disability whether or not they have a 'visible' impairment or use an assistive device such as a wheelchair, walker or cane. For example, whether or not a person utilizes an assistive device, if they are restricted or limited by debilitating pain, fatigue, cognitive dysfunctions, dizziness, blurred vision, weakness, etc. these symptoms are their invisible disabilities." The Invisible Disabilities Advocate.
Some people with visual or auditory impairments who do not wear glasses or hearing aids may not be obviously impaired. (Some may wear contacts or have a cochlear implant instead.) A sitting disability is another category of invisible impairments. Sitting problems are usually caused by chronic back pain. Those with joint problems or chronic pain may not use mobility aids on good days, or at all. Other examples include Asperger syndrome, attention disorders (ADD/ADHD), brain injuries, chronic pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, chemical sensitivities, fibromyalgia, epilepsy, and repetitive stress injuries.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Crohn's disease
- Primary immunodeficiency
- Sjögren's syndrome
- Interstitial cystitis
Chronic pain disabilities
- Coeliac Disease
- Fructose malabsorption
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Metabolic syndrome
- Lactose Intolerance
- Lactulose Intolerance
- Hereditary Fructose Intolerance
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Food allergies (the most common are peanut, milk, egg, tree nut, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat)
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Transverse Myelitis
- Lyme Disease
- Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
- Asperger Syndrome
People with psychiatric disabilities make up a large segment of the invisibly-disabled population covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Examples include:
- Major depression
- Bipolar disorder
- Anxiety disorders
- Personality disorders (when discussing mental impairments)
- Multiple chemical sensitivity, or environmental illness. It is a reaction to primarily scented substances, but not a true allergy. Most of its critics believe that most cases represent a type of anxiety disorder or somatoform disorder, although different sufferers may have different underlying causes. Its few supporters believe that it is caused by the body's inability to tolerate synthetic substances.
- Electrosensitivity, sometimes also called electrosensitivity or electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS). In this condition, the sufferer reports that physical and/or psychological symptoms are aggravated by electromagnetic fields (EMF) at exposure levels tolerated by the general public. Its many critics believe that it is most likely a psychosomatic illness. There are no good studies supporting the claimed role of EMF emissions in producing the reported symptoms. Supporters of ES frequently draw a distinction between the merely EMF anxious and the truly EMF sensitive, and generally believe that EMF sensitivity is rare.
About 10% of Americans have a condition which could be considered an invisible disability.
- Nearly one in two Americans (133 million) has a chronic condition of one kind or another. According to this report, the most common chronic conditions are high blood pressure, arthritis, respiratory diseases like emphysema, and high cholesterol.
- That number is projected to increase by more than one percent per year by 2030, resulting in an estimated chronically ill population of 171 million.
- 96% of them live with an illness that is invisible. These people do not use a cane or any assistive device and may look, act, and feel perfectly healthy.
- 25% of people in the U.S. with a chronic condition have some type of activity limitation; the remaining 75% are not disabled by their chronic conditions.
- 60% are between the ages of 18 and 64.
- 90% of seniors have at least one chronic disease and 77% have two or more chronic diseases.
Whereas with a visible disability people may be too willing to "help" or interfere, those with invisible disabilities must seek out any help or risk going without assistance. However, those with invisible disabilities are still protected by national and local disability laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Persons with some kinds of invisible disabilities, such as chronic pain, may be accused of faking or imagining their disabilities. People can also misunderstand and sometimes mistake illness or impairment as something else. For instance, one might feel animosity towards a person who takes a lift/elevator up one floor, by assuming they are lazy, without realizing that the person has an nonobvious disability which makes it difficult for them to climb stairs (such as a knee problem or lack of depth perception).
- National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week
- But You LOOK Good! (Booklet to help people understand IDs)
http://www.direct.gov.uk/disability - UK govt information
- Why Can't I Make People Understand? Discovering the validation those with chronic illness seek and why (Book, by Lisa Copen)
- The Invisible Disabilities Advocate
- The Cleaner Indoor Air Campaign (MCS)
- Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend (Book, by Lisa Copen)
- Carol Sveilich. Just Fine: Unmasking Concealed Chronic Illness and Pain. ISBN 0970015046
- Chemical Injury Information Network and its monthly magazine, Our Toxic Times
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Rubin, James; J Das Munshi J, Simon Wessely (March-April 2005). "Electromagnetic hypersensitivity: a systematic review of provocation studies". Psychosom Med 2005 Mar-Apr;67(2):224-32 67 (2): 224-32. Retrieved on 2008-05-08.
- ↑ Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Protection for the Electrically Sensitive (ES). Retrieved on 2008-05-08.
- ↑ Chronic Care in America: A 21st Century Challenge, a study of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation & Partnership for Solutions: Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (September 2004 Update). "Chronic Conditions: Making the Case for Ongoing Care"
- ↑ ibid
- ↑ 2002 US Census Bureau
- ↑ ibid
- ↑ The Growing Burden of Chronic Disease in American, Public Health Reports / May–June 2004 / Volume 119, Gerard Anderson, PhD
- Switzer, Jacqueline Vaughn. Disabled Rights: American Disability Policy and the Fight for Equality. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2003.sv:Osynligt handikapp
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