Did you ever have a cold or flu that just made you feel so horrible that you wanted to stay home from school, but your parents didn't believe you? Then they may have taken your temperature and found out otherwise that you were really sick. In many cases, Moms and Dads need an outward sign or proof that you are sick before they let you stay home from school and rest. With invisible disability it's very similar. Because there is no obvious outward sign, it's hard to understand or believe that it exists or that it could have a major impact on that persons' life.
Many of you probably have a classmate at school who you know goes to speech class. Because they go to speech you may never of considered it a disability. You probably also don't realize how hard it is for that person to join in a conversation about the play-off hockey game. Did you just think he or she was the quiet type? Or maybe he was just stupid or didn't know anything about the topic! There are many disabilities such as a language disorders that are invisible and therefore extremely hard to understand. You should respect your classmate for what he or she has to overcome each day in just coming to school. We will tell you a little about these challenges- but I feel it is more important to allow you to experience some of these challenges by simulating a piece of what their disability feels like on any given day in school.
Here is an example of someone that has a visible and invisible disability. You may ask yourself why we have this here but we thought it was important to get other people's perspective on things. From an interview at the International Leadership Forum for Women with Disabilities.
Although I am a person in a wheel chair with a ventilator, both very visible disabilities, I am also a person with the hidden disability of asthma and am often ill because I have circulatory deficiencies and am usually fighting a respiratory infection (I have had 18 respiratory infections in the last 12 months.)
While this Forum has been validating, exciting, and intellectually challenging for me. I have been disheartened several times by speakers and participants comments that while we are disabled, we are not sick! There is nothing wrong with being sick.
Other comments that have hurt me and several other friends with disabilities have included, Why is she sitting down when there are hardly any chairs? Why can't she stand up and give someone else a chair who really needs it?
There are many hidden disabilities like Asthma, Arthritis, Heart Disease, Environmental Illness, AIDS, Chronic Fatigue, Psychiatric Disabilities or Mental Illnesses, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Developmental Disabilities or mental Retardation, etc. My asthma has been continuously triggered by women wearing perfume, yet women are insulted if I explain why I cannot sit near them when they are wearing perfume.
Unless we relinquish our judgmental attitudes towards one another's differences, this Forum will have been a farce. To expect a women with a psychiatric disabilities to go through a fourteen hour day of talks, workshops, meetings, etc. Without validation or support, or to not have safe space for environmentally disabled women, or to get angry when you ask a seemingly able-bodied woman to carry something, and she says no because she has a back injury is to put steps in front of a woman in a wheel chair. We must get rid of our take up thy bed and walk, cripple attitudes are crippling all of us.
Celebrate your own diversity of others. Disability is not a contest between, whose needs are greater or lesser, and none of use will ever be independent because not even the strongest, healthiest able-bodied woman is independent; we are all interdependent inter-loving, inter-caring women. So let's stop being super crips or super able-bodied and show that love to each other.
On this page we have some examples of invisible disabilities. To learn more about these types of disabilities visit our next few pages that includes:
Panzarino, C. (1997 )Forum News[NEWS Article], 3-4. Available: Final Edition
International Leadership Forum For Women With Disabilities
Daily Newspaper.[1997, June 19].