Invisible Disabilities

Are Invisible Disabilities Invisible?

How do folks motivate themselves to persistently accept an invisible disability? Where does that kind of resilience come from? What is an invisible disability? An invisible disability is a condition that impairs the one who has it without being readily apparent to others.

For example, the physical consequences of head injuries are usually visible while the emotional results of a head injury aren’t visible, but they can notably impair one’s ability to interact with others.

Interacting with the Disabled

When I see a person in a wheel chair, wearing a hearing aid, or carrying a white cane, I like to talk with them. I feel like we share a bond. If life can be frustrating for people without disabilities, people with disabilities  especially understand the meaning of frustration. Despite the fact that a disability cannot be determined solely by whether or not a person has an obvious impairment, people tend to be more patient with a slow person on crutches than with a slow person without an obvious impairment.

People dealing with some kind of impairment usually find it easier to deal with others who are impaired, even if their impairment isn’t visible to others. Invisible disabilities include chronic illnesses and conditions such as:

ADHD, Anxiety Disorders, Autism, Bipolar Disorder, Brain Injuries, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic Pain, Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder, Celiac Disease, Crohn’s Disease, Depression, Diabetes, Epilepsy, Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Lupus, Lyme Disease, Major Depression, Metabolic Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, Personality Disorders, Primary Immunodeficiency, Psychiatric Disabilities, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Schizophrenia, Sclerosis, Ulcerate Colitis.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) an individual with a disability is a person who:

  1. has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;
  2. has a record of such an impairment, or
  3. is regarded as having such an impairment.

Those with invisible disabilities are protected by national and local disability laws, such as the Americans with Disability Act. However, laws and ordinances can not always protect people from judgmental and inappropriate social interactions.

People who are truly aware do not judge

Many conclude a person can or cannot do something by the way they look or act. This can be frustrating for those who may look unable, but are perfectly capable, as well as those who look able, but are not. Don’t assume you know. It’s much better to politely ask, using compassionate communication to assess and to respond respectfully. The bottom line is that we all need to become more aware of people with disabilities (visible and invisible) since 1 of 10 Americans are dealing with a disability. Statistics and behaviors show Disability Awareness is needed.

To hire Al to share his humor and motivation at your event, or to participate in his seminar, fill out our initial  questionnaire. He’ll customize any of these  topics for your event. His book No Limits can be obtained separately or  in bulk as part of a package deal.


Winners Don't Quit Association
12515 NE 145th Pl D-130 KirklandWA98034 USA 
 • 206-453-2572

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3 Responses to Invisible Disabilities

  1. Fritz34 April 14, 2011 at 4:51 am #

    Al I so agree with you. We all could use some trainig in how to interact with people with disabilities. With knowledge comes confidence and with confidence you can be yourself.

  2. Anonymous April 15, 2011 at 9:10 pm #

    I think one reason people aren’t confident is because they’re afraid hurting the person with disabilities by saying the wrong thing. (sigh) Be respectful, but don’t worry about accidentally saying the wrong thing. Hearing the wrong thing is easier to get over than being shunned or ignored.

  3. Howard Howell December 5, 2011 at 5:51 pm #

    Al… this is very helpful for interacting with those that are differently-abled.

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