Disabilities affect around one in every four adults in America. There are hundreds of different disabilities, with some being more common than others.
The severity of every disability can range from mild to severe, depending on a range of different factors. Some disabilities are more obvious, while others are almost invisible.
Regardless of the severity or the type of disability that a person is struggling with, being disabled can seriously affect somebody’s quality of life. It can also impact their loved ones and can make life very difficult.
The word disability is often associated with significant physical disabilities or the image of somebody using a wheelchair. But disabilities come in all shapes and sizes, and there is no ‘one size fits all. Even the same disability will affect two people differently.
Here are the most common disabilities to be aware of and learn more about. You or somebody you live with may have been diagnosed with one of these disabilities. If not, it’s always helpful to learn more about different disabilities so that you know how to interact with all kinds of people in your day-to-day life.
Deafness or Hard of Hearing
Deafness describes the loss of hearing. It can be caused by a wide range of things, including genetic and hereditary conditions, trauma to the structures of the ear, exposure to loud noises, or aging.
The severity of hearing loss can range from person to person. Some people may suffer from my old hearing loss, while others have complete deafness in one or both ears.
Most people who are hard of hearing well get hearing aids. For those who are almost completely deaf, a more intrusive treatment, such as a cochlear implant, may be necessary.
Communicating with an individual who is entirely deaf or only has partial hearing can be tricky. In some cases, a deaf person may have a signer who will translate everything that is being said in the workplace or in a classroom into sign language.
However, if the person does not have a signer, there are things that you can do to make communication easier between you and the other person. Speak clearly and avoid covering your mouth during the conversation. Use hand gestures and facial expressions to convey your emotions more clearly.
There is a spectrum of learning disabilities, each of which displays unique characteristics and symptoms. The most common characteristics of learning disabilities include delayed growth and development, reduced intellectual capacity, and slower information processing.
In those with learning disabilities, the processing of auditory and visual stimuli is delayed. Two of the most common learning disabilities are dyslexia and dysgraphia. The severity of the learning disability makes a significant impact on the way the individual interacts with others.
In those with mild learning disabilities, their signs and symptoms may be almost unnoticeable, and they will be able to integrate with others quite easily. Individuals with more severe learning disabilities may need more support and guidance with general day-to-day things.
Children with learning disabilities often have an extra support worker who sits with them during classes. Adults with learning disabilities can request special adjustments to be made in the workplace to make things easier for them.
The term medical disabilities describe a vast array of different medical conditions that can affect people of all ages and all backgrounds. The most common medical disabilities are:
- Arthritis and joint problems
- Cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and heart failure
- Gut health disorders, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
- Orthopedic (bone) issues, such as osteoporosis
- Seizure disorders, such as epilepsy
Depending on the severity of the medical condition, the individual may need additional support in some areas of their life. Thanks to modern-day medicine, there are medications that can be provided to help manage most of these conditions and prevent them from worsening over time.
As with hearing impairments, visual impairment ranges in severity from person to person. Depending on the course and the type of treatment the person has received, they may be partially sighted or completely blind.
Blind individuals often need adjustments to be made in the workplace, in their homes, and in the classroom if they are students. For example, they might need a larger computer screen and keyboard, front rows seating, or a screen that shows larger, more eligible text.
Congenital conditions can cause some people to be born without sight. However, sites can worsen with age, and many eye health conditions are more prevalent amongst the elderly population, such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
The diagnoses of psychiatric disorders are made using the DSM-5, which states the diagnostic criteria for every recognized mental health condition. However, psychiatric conditions are all unique, and it is impossible to put everybody with the same condition into the same box.
Mental health conditions can result from traumatic or stressful events during the course of somebody’s lifetime or neglect during childhood. There may also be a hereditary component to some mental health conditions but this is difficult to determine through studies.
There are many cross-over symptoms that can be seen in people with a range of psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety, depression, dissociative identity disorder, and more. These symptoms include:
- Changes in mood
- Changes in appetite leading to weight loss or weight gain
- Lack of focus or concentration
- Reduced enjoyment in the things that they once enjoyed
- Constant fear or anxiety or ongoing panic attacks
The best treatments for mental health conditions depend on the individual’s needs and preferences. For some, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is an effective form of treatment. Others might need medications or more intensive inpatient care to manage or overcome their condition.