Living with hidden disabilities

Posted on: 3/12/2020

December 3rd is International Day of People with Disabilities. This year the theme is ‘Not all Disabilities are Visible’, which focuses on spreading awareness and understanding of disabilities that are not immediately apparent.

In the UK alone, 1 in 5 people has a disability, with 80% of those having an invisible disability.

What is an invisible disability?

A person is considered to have a disability if he or she has difficulty performing certain functions (seeing, hearing, talking, walking, climbing stairs and lifting and carrying), or has difficulty performing activities of daily living, or has difficulty with certain social roles (doing school work for children, working at a job and around the house for adults).

Invisible disabilities, also known as Hidden Disabilities or Non-visible Disabilities, are disabilities that are not immediately apparent. Typically, they are chronic illnesses and conditions that significantly impair normal activities of daily living.

Living with these conditions can make daily life more demanding for many people. They affect each person in different ways and can be painful, exhausting, and isolating. Without visible evidence of the hidden disability, it is frequently difficult for others to acknowledge the challenges faced and as a consequence, sympathy and understanding can often be in short supply.

Examples of Hidden Disabilities
While this list is by no means exhaustive, some examples of hidden disabilities include:

  • Autism
  • Brain injuries
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Chronic pain
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Depression, ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, and other mental health conditions
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Learning difficulties, including dyslexia, dyspraxia, dysgraphia, and language processing disorder
  • Lupus
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Visual and auditory disabilities. These could be considered visible if the person with the disability didn’t wear support aids such as glasses or hearing aids

During the COVID-19 pandemic, invisible disabilities have become a talking point, which is why it is important to raise awareness of them.

If you are living with an invisible disability and need further support, particularly during the pandemic, click here where you will find more information on invisible disabilities, as well as extra resources including The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower for people with hidden disabilities.