The number one question people ask of our organization, the Invisible Disabilities Association is “What is an invisible disability?” The term invisible disabilities refers to the invisible symptoms such as debilitating pain, fatigue, dizziness, cognitive dysfunctions, brain injuries, learning differences and mental health disorders, as well as hearing and vision impairments. These are not always obvious to the onlooker, but are very real to the person living with them as they may impact daily activities and range from mild challenges to severe limitations and vary from person to person.
Someone who has a visible impairment or uses an assistive device such as a wheelchair, walker or cane can also have invisible disabilities. A wheelchair or hearing aids do not necessarily limit a person’s ability to participate in life’s activities. What if they have chronic pain or PTSD or brain fog or other invisible symptoms? These invisible symptoms can create a great strain on their daily ability and functionality.
Unfortunately, people often judge others by what they see and often conclude a person can or cannot do something by the way they look. This can be equally frustrating for those who may appear unable, but are perfectly capable, as well as those who appear able, but are not.