Did you know that 10% of people in the United States have a medical condition that can be considered an invisible disability? Invisible disabilities can be physical, mental, or neurological. These conditions are often not apparent to the outside world, but they can affect the way a person moves and perceives the world around them, oftentimes hindering daily activities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that employers with 15 or more employees must provide people with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from the employment-related opportunities available to others. Failure to do so may open up charges of discrimination. There are many different kinds of invisible disabilities, but here are a few common ones:
- Mental illness: This can include depression, anxiety, PTSD, eating disorders, and insomnia. Nearly half of all adults will experience a mental illness at some point that affects mood, behavior, or thought processes.
- Chronic pain: This describes pain that lasts longer than six months, sometimes lingering after an illness or injury. It can have many causes.
- Chronic dizziness: This also has many causes, including side effects from medication and inner-ear issues. A person may feel faint or experience a spinning sensation, leading to unsteadiness or weakness.
- Chronic fatigue: Extreme exhaustion that doesn’t improve with rest is known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Women are more likely to suffer from this debilitating disease than men.
- Autism: People with autism spectrum disorder may experience behavioral
challenges or have difficulty expressing themselves and communicating.
There are actually hundreds of conditions, illnesses, and injuries that lead to invisible disabilities. Education and awareness are key. Remember, people can experience challenges that are not obvious or easy to identify. Invisible disabilities vary greatly and have vastly different levels of severity. You may not know what someone else is experiencing or navigating—so try to treat those around you with kindness, compassion, and respect.