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May 21, 2018 | by  | in Can Do |
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Access Denied

“But they don’t look disabled!” This is something many of my friends have heard said about them over the years. To the average person, when they think about the word “disabled”, no doubt the most common image they’ll conjure up is a person in a wheelchair, or maybe someone holding a cane. But disabilities extend past the physically visible. Invisible disabilities exist and come in many forms. To name a few: chronic pain, chronic fatigue, cognitive impairments, learning difficulties, mental illnesses/health issues, hearing/vision impairments, and brain injuries.

The degree to which a person might be affected by any of these can vary greatly. For example, a person who has fibromyalgia (often characterised by chronic pain, excessive tiredness, a lower pain threshold, and can also include anxiety and/or depression) might have days where their pain seems manageable, they don’t appear to be too exhausted etc., but on other days the pain or fatigue may be completely overwhelming.

Assuming a person to be able-bodied does a great injustice to those who live with disabilities that aren’t visible. This can create a sense of guilt in an individual with an invisible disability, because this can lead them to reconsider themselves as having a disability. A friend of mine at high school had dyslexia. For tests and exams they would have a separate room with some extra time and a reader/writer to assist them. I overheard many times from some students that they thought a person having a reader/writer was unfair. I never understood why on earth they’d think that, but clearly they’d never bothered to take a moment to think about what it might be like to have something that made learning more difficult.

A person with a visible, or invisible, disability does not owe anyone an explanation about it. Everyone needs to stop making assumptions about those around us – you never know what a person is or is not experiencing.

We’re all trying to get on with our lives as best we can, the least we can do is be respectful to one another and acknowledge our differences, whatever form they come in.

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