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When you have Invisible disabilities or chronic illnesses, others give you no break. Associates ask you to do things beyond your strength and endurance; acquaintances believe you malingering or faking a disability; strangers give you dirty looks and negative judgments. Although the disability creates a challenge for the person who has it, the reality of the disability can be difficult for others to recognize or acknowledge.
Due to social stigma directed at people with disabilities, many persons choose not to disclose their diagnosis too their friends, family, and others. Because the medical model of disability focuses on curing something viewed as broken, people with disabilities are perceived as defective. The medical model of disability can lead to misperceptions and misunderstandings that prompt some people to be “insensitive and less willing to accommodate the needs of people whose disabilities are not outwardly apparent. A person with an invisible disability encounters discrimination, pure and simple.
Hidden disabilities are everywhere. About 10% of Americans have a medical condition which could be considered an invisible disability. The reality of the disability can be difficult for others to recognize or acknowledge. What is important is that we remember that someone we know may have a hidden disability. Often, these invisible disabilities have negative effects on a person’s self worth and sense of belonging.
My biggest problem has been in convincing people that I have a problem at all. People look at me and assume I am fine, just over weight, and then react to me as if I am being lazy or choosing to be inflexible. Unfortunately, people often judge me by what they see and often conclude I can or cannot do something by the way I look.