As I was going through the Cubs Who Care requirements in the Wolf book, it occurred to me that I did not fully understand what the term “Invisible Disabilities” actually was. Here are my findings:
It is estimated that nearly 10% of the US population has some sort of an invisible disability. The “invisible” simply means that the disability is not in plain sight. Someone could be sitting next to you in the library and you would not realize they had vision loss until they put on their glasses to read. Personally, we have come to the realization that my father may have some sort of hearing loss as the television appears to be getting louder and louder each time we visit for the holidays. We tend to register that an individual is disabled if we see a wheelchair, cane, or hearing aid… but what about the invisible signs? How do we first recognize that an individual suffers from sleep disorders, chronic pain, diabetes, mental illness, or anything else that limits their life activities? Years ago we had a family member be diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. I remember family, friends, and even myself doubting that this “new” diagnosis was even real. Partly because we could not “see” the ailment. Just because we can’t see it, does not mean that it is not there. Today it is estimated that over 3 million Americans suffer from this chronic muscle pain.
A few years ago we had a scout that was deathly allergic to peanuts. The patrol did a great job when it came to meal plans. Even though they really enjoyed PB&J sandwiches on their hikes and in order to not accidentally cross contaminate, they adjusted their trail food to not include anything that contained or that was processed with peanuts. Doing so, they were looking out for the well being of their fellow scout.
I have come to the conclusion that in order to know if someone has an invisible disability, it helps to get to know the person. Most of the time it is easier with family and friends to see the invisible’s. But get to know your fellow scouts. Doing so may uncover some invisible’s and will make activities more enjoyable for them as you can prepare the events accordingly.
Here is a list of “some” invisible disabilities:
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Circadian rhythm sleep disorders
Ehlers Danlos Syndrome
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder(FASD)
Hereditary Fructose Intolerance
Inflammatory bowel disease
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
Repetitive stress injuries
Temporomandibular joint disorder