• Shelley

Not all disabilities are visible

On December the 3rd International Day of People with Disabilities was celebrated. This year the theme was not all disabilities are visible. Neurodiverse challenges, like those associated with ADHD. Dyslexia, Anxiety and other neurological disabilities, fall into this category.

When we encounter a child with a physical disability of any kind we will do anything we can to help them succeed alongside their able-bodied peers, and rightly so. We purchase and

accomodate glasses, push them in a wheelchair, strive to communicate with them by learning sign language, give them additional time to perform tasks and ask them what else we can do to help them more. Why is it then that when we encounter children with neurodivergent traits - those whose difficulties may not be visible straight away but who when we observe them, struggle to sit still or follow instructions to learn or have trouble relating to other children at playtime, those who need constant reassurance to do those things their peers manage easily or can relate their ideas fluently in a conversation but not write them down for assessment- why is it with these children that we don't always do everything to help them succeed? Why do we not often ask them how we can help them more? Why do we label them as attention-seeking, berate them for challenging behaviour or lazy and unmotivated for not doing what we think a child of their age should be able to do?

Let's change our perspective and begin to see hidden disabilities as real 'dis' abilities- not excuses, not bad behaviour, not a bad attitude but a real need, a neurological difference, that deserves accommodations to allow for a true reflection of abilities.

Just to clarify, I know that the term disability can be controversial when talking about

neurodivergent thinking - many people have different opinions on this. I talk, about a disability and think of a 'dis' ability - not to erase strengths but definitely as something that can challenge a person's ability in doing certain things; nothing shameful or limiting and certainly something that with the right understanding, accomodations and support, does not prevent or exclude, but allows for an individual's true potential to be fulfilled!

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