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Visible vs. Invisible Disabilities: More Than Meets the Eye

Did you know that disabilities can be invisible? What we mean by that is that someone can have a disability that does not appear disabled to the naked eye. There are disabilities that do not present themselves in a physical form. Many times, people with invisible disabilities are viewed as “strange” or “off” to others, but in fact they are dealing with a disability that makes them act the way that we do. Part of understanding the difference between the two is learning about what is considered a visible disability and what invisible disabilities there are. Read below to learn the difference between the two!

Developmental disabilities are not always visible and easy to notice, sometimes they are not apparent or obvious to the naked eye. Visible disabilities can be noticed to an individual with their naked eye and by just looking at the person. They may have facial features that show they have a disability, they may have involuntary shaking through out their body or they may not be physically able to move as the average individual does. Common examples of visible disabilities are:

  • Autism
  • Down Syndrome
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • Tourette Syndrome
  • Amputations
  • Paralysis
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Muscular Dystrophy (MD)
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

 

 

Invisible disabilities have side effects that may affect the way the individual thinks, hears, speaks or interacts with others. It can be challenging to know when someone has an invisible disability, as most of these people may be dismissed by their peers and society as ‘odd’ or ‘off’. These invisible disabilities may include:

  • ADD
  • ADHD
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar
  • Depression
  • OCD
  • Asperger’s
  • Diabetes
  • Other Chronic Illnesses

 

It is important to understand that developmental disabilities do not have to be obvious and evident. There are differences between the two types of developmental disabilities: their treatments from doctors may differ, their daily routines may vary and the way they are treated by society may differ as well. Commonly, people are more accepting of individuals that have visible disabilities, as they can clearly see that they have a debilitation that hinders the way they interact with others. However, individuals that have invisible developmental disabilities may suffer from bullying and being misunderstood because to the naked eye, they may seem as though they do not have a disability. It is important to note that you should never assume 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!

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