Invisible disabilities are conditions that go unnoticed by others, as their name suggests. The effects of these disabilities can be significant, regardless of age or sex. Some common invisible disabilities include Autism, ADHD, ADD, Asperger’s syndrome, IBS, Chiari Malformation, Trigeminal Neuralgia, and sensory loss such as hearing and sight loss.

According to Autism UK, NHS data shows that over 120,000 people (86 per cent), have been waiting for more than 13 weeks for autism assessment. That’s a 40 per cent increase in just one year. The same source also reveals that no one should be waiting longer than 12 weeks for an appointment after a referral. Some opt to go private to get a confirmed diagnosis and the help they need. For an idea of the costs, Acorn autism specialists charge £2,150 for an autism diagnostic assessment. During the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, people should not be forced to pay extortionate fees to get the basic help they are entitled to.

Understanding Chiari Malformation

Chiari Malformation is a congenital, neurological condition. However, symptoms often do not present themselves until much later in life. In my case, I was diagnosed at the age of 19, a few months short of my 20th birthday. As a result, I decided to take a year out before starting my undergraduate degree in 2019 to get some treatment and to figure out all of the right medication. According to the British Medical Journal, Chiari type 1 is the most common out of the six types and approximately 8 in 1000 people have it.

Effects of Invisible Disabilities

There is a wide range of invisible disabilities, including learning disabilities, mental health disorders, chronic pain, and autism spectrum disorder. But unlike common physical impairments, these disabilities may not have clearly visible physical symptoms or cause physical damage. However, young people with these types of disabilities can suffer as much, and sometimes more, as any person with a visible disability.

1. Misunderstanding and Stigma

Stigma and a lack of understanding often accompany young people with invisible disabilities. They may be perceived as lazy, attention-seekers, or faking their illness. This type of stigma can lead to social isolation, low self-esteem, and a lack of support from peers, teachers, and society.

2. Academic and Educational Barriers

Education and academic success can be more challenging for young people who have invisible disabilities. Grasping information and retaining it can be more difficult when you have a learning disability such as dyslexia or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). To ensure equal access to education, these disabilities may need to be accommodated with specific support aids, such as extra time allocated for exams or permitting the use of special assistive technology.

3. Health and Well-Being

Invisible disabilities can take their toll on the physical and mental health and well-being of young people. Those with invisible disabilities often find themselves having to cancel plans with friends if their condition makes them too weak or tired to get out of bed and physically make journeys. Such unpredictability can have a profound impact on a young person’s self-esteem and lead to a sense of growing isolation. In this case, regular medical care and emotional support to help manage one’s symptoms can significantly help a young person retain control over their lives.

4. Financial Stability

Financial stability is an important factor when it comes to having an invisible disability. The costs associated with medical treatment, assistive devices, or other types of support services can pose additional challenges for young people with invisible disabilities who are not yet earning a living.  There are avenues to getting financial support if you have disabilities. For example, working from home, receiving a government benefits package, or allowing friends and family to help. However, these measures are not always sufficient to provide the kind of financial security needed to support the costs of maintaining one’s invisible disability.

There are signs that society and the government are becoming less tolerant towards those who are unable to work. Consequently, young people with invisible disabilities are having to fight harder than ever before to receive treatment, compassion and support. As a young adult with invisible disabilities, I can only say that navigating life while having to constantly battle ill health can be exhausting and frustrating. There are certain things that society and the government have a duty to do. Arguably, tolerance towards those with invisible disabilities is the very least one should expect.

DISCLAIMER: The articles on our website are not endorsed by, or the opinions of Shout Out UK (SOUK), but exclusively the views of the author.