Understanding Disabilities

A disability is something physical or mental that a person has that limits one or more aspects of their life or changes the way they have to do things. Not all disabilities are visible. Some people with disabilities don’t even feel like their disability limits them, but instead, it makes them unique.

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What Are Disabilities?

A disability is something physical or mental that a person has that limits one or more aspects of their life or changes the way they have to do things. It is important to remember that not all disabilities are visible. This means that sometimes you can’t know if someone has a disability just by looking at them! 

Some people with disabilities don’t even feel like their disability limits them, but instead, it makes them unique. Everyone has a different relationship with their disability. Make sure not to assume you know how a disability does or does not affect someone. There are so many differences in experience. 

Types of Disabilities

There are many different types of disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a disability as a type of physical or mental impairment that limits a person’s life in some way. Some disabilities can affect mobility, reading, working, vision, communicating, hearing, and learning. Two general categories of disabilities include physical and mental disabilities. A physical disability might include limits to a person’s senses, physical functioning, or mobility. Here are some examples:

Physical Disabilities

  • Vision impairment or blindness
  • Hard of hearing or deafness
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Epilepsy

Mental or Psychological Disabilities

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Intellectual disability
  • Learning disability
    • Dyslexia, or difficulty reading
  • Mental health disorders

Remember, some people may have some of the above conditions and not consider it a disability. There are also some disabilities that may seem to fall in both categories. For example, having a traumatic brain injury resulting from a car accident or from getting a concussion.

Why do I feel this way? 

If you have a disability, you’ve likely experienced the feeling that the world isn’t set up for you. An example of this includes how many buildings are not wheelchair accessible. You may be tired of people making assumptions about what you can and can’t do. Ableism is defined as being discriminated against, or passed over in different situations, as a result of your disability. Dealing with ableism can be draining. But there are some things you can do to take care of yourself. 

  • Become involved in the disability community 
  • Become comfortable with yourself 
  • Raise awareness about ableism

Talking to people you can relate to can be helpful and boost self-esteem. Becoming comfortable with yourself makes it less likely that other people’s comments will affect you. 

Wellbeing Strategies

Talk to a Counselor or Therapist: It can be difficult to address your emotions and thoughts, experiences, and life challenges. Reaching out to a counselor or therapist can help you feel better and less alone.

Talk to a Trusted Adult: Parents, mentors, school employees, and religious leaders can provide you with additional support and guidance to work through your life challenges.

Take Care of Yourself: Exercise, sleep, and eating healthy can have a big impact on your overall mood and how you feel about yourself. You can also do something you enjoy, such as yoga, art, sports, writing, listening to music, playing an instrument, etc.  Finding time to do things that you enjoy can help you feel better.

Meditate, Prayer, Mindfulness: Connecting to your breathing and your abilities to calm yourself can help positively increase your mood. Spending time in nature can help improve your mood.

Disability Facts

  1. Over 1 billion people live with some form of disability (15% of the world’s population)
  2. Rehabilitation helps maximize functioning and support independence
  3. People with physical disability make up the largest minority group in the US
  4. There are countless people with disabilities who finish their studies and even graduate with college degrees
  5. Many of those with disabilities are able to work and inspire others despite their disabilities

Further Reading

Health Information for People with Disabilities – CDC

Disabilities – WHO

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