What are Invisible Disabilities?

Invisible Disability, or hidden disability, is an umbrella term that captures a whole spectrum of hidden disabilities or challenges that are primarily neurological in nature. Invisible disability, or hidden disability, are defined as disabilities that are not immediately apparent. Some people with visual or auditory disabilities who do not wear glasses or hearing aids, or discreet hearing aids, may not be obviously disabled. Some people who have vision loss may wear contacts.

A sitting disability is another category of invisible impairments; sitting problems are usually caused by chronic back pain. Those with joint problems or chronic pain may not use mobility aids on some days, or at all. 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. Others may not understand the cause of the problem, if they cannot see evidence of it in a visible way.

People with some kinds of invisible disabilities, such as chronic pain or some kind of sleep disorder, are often accused of faking or imagining their disabilities. These symptoms can occur due to chronic illness, chronic pain, injury, birth disorders, etc. and are not always obvious to the onlooker.

Invisible Disabilities are certain kinds of disabilities that are not immediately apparent to others. It is estimated that 10% of people in the U.S. have a medical condition which could be considered a type of invisible disability.

Nearly one in two people in the U.S. has a chronic medical condition of one kind or another, but most of these people are not considered to be disabled, as their medical conditions do not impair their normal everyday activities. These people do not use an assistive device and most look and act perfectly healthy.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) an individual with a disability is a person who: Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment.

Woman with migraine sitting on a bed holding a white mug with her head resting on her hands and knees.
Woman with migraine sitting on a bed holding a white mug with her head resting on her hands and knees.

Generally seeing a person in a wheelchair, wearing a hearing aid, or carrying a white cane tells us a person may be disabled. But what about invisible disabilities that make daily living a bit more difficult for many people worldwide?

Invisible disabilities can include chronic illnesses such as renal failure, diabetes, and sleep disorders if those diseases significantly impair normal activities of daily living.

For example there are people with visual or auditory impairments who do not wear hearing aids or eye glasses so they may not seem to be obviously impaired. Those with joint conditions or problems who suffer chronic pain may not use any type of mobility aids on good days, or ever.

Another example is Fibromyalgia which is now understood to be the most common cause of chronic musculoskeletal pain. Sources estimate between 3 and 26 million Americans suffer from this hidden condition.

Other Types of Invisible Disabilities

  • Chronic Pain: A variety of conditions may cause chronic pain. A few of those reasons may be back problems, bone disease, physical injuries, and any number of other reasons. Chronic pain may not be noticeable to people who do not understand the victims specific medical condition.
  • Chronic Fatigue: This type of disability refers to an individual who constantly feels tired. This can be extremely debilitating and affect every aspect of a persons every day life.
  • Mental Illness: There are many mental illnesses that do qualify for disability benefits. Some examples are depression, attention deficit disorder, schizophrenia, agoraphobia, and many others. These diseases can also be completely debilitating to the victim, and can make performing everyday tasks extremely difficult, if not impossible.
  • Chronic Dizziness: Often associated with problems of the inner ear, chronic dizziness can lead to impairment when walking, driving, working, sleeping, and other common tasks.

People with psychiatric disabilities make up a large segment of the invisibly-disabled population covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Invisible disabilities can also include chronic illnesses such as renal failure, diabetes, and sleep disorders if those diseases significantly impair normal activities of daily living. If a medical condition does not impair normal activities, then it is not considered a disability.

96% of people with chronic medical conditions live with an illness that is invisible.

Many people living with a hidden physical disability or mental challenge are still able to be active in their hobbies, work and be active in sports. On the other hand, some struggle just to get through their day at work and some cannot work at all.

List of SOME Invisible Disabilities

U.S. Invisible Disability Statistics

About 10% of Americans have a medical condition which could be considered an invisible disability. 96% of people with chronic medical conditions live with a condition that is invisible. These people do not use a cane or any assistive device and act as if they didn’t have a medical condition. About 25% of them have some type of activity limitation, ranging from mild to severe; the remaining 75% are not disabled by their chronic conditions. 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. Others may not understand the cause of the problem, if they cannot see evidence of it in a visible way.

Invisible Disability in Society

Invisible disabilities are the most common type of disability among college students. For example, students with learning disabilities, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and/or psychiatric disabilities may request accommodations even though they do not appear to have a disability. There are numerous other hidden or invisible disabilities such as heart condition, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and Seizure Disorder.

A recent scheme known as the Sunflower Lanyard Program has been launched in th U.K. The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower purpose aims to help others identify when support may be needed for those with disabilities such as autism, dementia, anxiety, or other conditions that may not be immediately obvious to other people.

A growing number of organizations, governments, and institutions are implementing policies and regulations to accommodate persons with invisible disabilities. Governments and school boards have implemented screening tests to identify students with learning disabilities, as well as other invisible disabilities, such as vision or hearing difficulties, or problems in cognitive ability, motor skills, or social or emotional development. If a hidden disability is identified, resources can be used to place a child in a special education program that will help them progress in school.

Epilepsy – Complex Partial Seizures

Overview

A complex partial seizure is also known as a focal impaired awareness seizure or a focal onset impaired awareness seizure. This type of seizure starts in a single area of the brain. This area is usually, but not always, the temporal lobe of the brain.

While it’s most common in people with epilepsy, this type of seizure has been known to occur in people with cerebral palsy. It includes uncontrolled movement of limbs or other body parts. These seizures are usually very short, and the person having the seizure will be unaware of their surroundings. They may also become unconscious for a brief period of time.

Complex partial seizures and epilepsy

For those with epilepsy, this is the most common type of seizure. But while complex partial seizures are often related to epilepsy, this is not the only reason for someone to have seizures.

Symptoms of complex partial seizures

A complex partial seizure can have multiple possible symptoms. However, these symptoms may occur during one seizure and not another. Complex partial seizures normally only last a few minutes. Seizures beginning in the frontal lobe area of the brain are usually shorter than those that start in the temporal lobe area.

Symptoms will often start abruptly, and the person experiencing the seizure may not know they have had one. The person may:

  • stare blankly or look like they’re daydreaming
  • be unable to respond
  • wake from sleep suddenly
  • swallow, smack their lips, or otherwise move their mouth repetitively
  • pick at things like the air, clothing, or furniture
  • say words repetitively
  • scream, laugh, or cry
  • perform actions that can cause potential danger to themselves, like walking in front of moving cars or removing all or portions of their clothing
  • perform movements like they are riding a bicycle
  • be unaware, either partially or totally, of their surroundings
  • hallucinate
  • try to hurt themselves
  • experience confusion when the seizure ends
  • be unable to remember the seizure when it’s over

Causes of complex partial seizures

While epilepsy is one of the most common causes, there are other conditions that can cause a complex partial seizure. Some of these conditions are:

  • psychological distress or trauma
  • neurologic conditions
  • extreme stress
  • anxiety and depression
  • autism
  • other medical conditions related to the brain
  • damage caused prior to birth
  • neurofibromatosis

Common triggers

A complex partial seizure can happen anytime and usually without much warning. They can even occur when the person is in the middle of an activity. Sometimes the person will have an aura right before having a complex partial seizure. An aura is also called a simple partial seizure. It can act as a warning signal that a bigger seizure is coming.

There are some additional factors that can trigger a seizure, including:

  • flashing lights
  • low blood sugar
  • high fever
  • reactions to some medications

Diagnosing a complex partial seizure

Before deciding on treatment, a doctor will need to confirm that a person is having complex partial seizures. The doctor will need as many details as possible from the person having the seizures as well as from someone who has seen these episodes on a number of occasions. The doctor will need to know what happens before, during, and after each episode.

If a doctor suspects a complex partial seizure, they will usually order a diagnostic test to confirm. An electroencephalogram (EEG) may be done initially. However, the EEG will usually need to record a seizure to be accurate. Other tests that may be given to look for any potential cause of the seizures are a CT scan and an MRI. A blood test and neurological exam may be done as well. These may help the doctor find a cause (if there is a recognizable cause) without seeing an actual seizure while testing.

How are they treated and managed?

There are various types of treatment for complex partial seizures once the condition has been diagnosed. The following are some of the possible treatment options:

The type of treatment used is determined by the cause of the seizures, other medical conditions, and other factors.

Associated health conditions

A complex partial seizure can happen to anyone. However, there are some medical conditions that are more prone to these types of seizures. These medical conditions include:

  • epilepsy (most common)
  • cerebral palsy
  • infection in the brain
  • brain injury
  • tumor in the brain
  • stroke
  • some heart conditions

Sometimes a complex partial seizure will happen to someone without any known medical conditions. There is not always a cause that can be determined in some cases of complex partial seizures.

Outlook

Once diagnosed, seizures — including complex partial seizures — can be managed through a variety of treatment options. In some cases, children will outgrow the seizures.

If you think that you or someone you know is having seizures, it’s important to talk to a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

You should contact a medical professional immediately if someone you know is having a seizure and any of the following is true:

  • this is the person’s first seizure
  • the seizure lasts more than five minutes
  • the person has a high fever
  • the person does not become conscious after the seizure is over
  • the person has diabetes
  • the person is or might be pregnant

Epilepsy Drugs#2 Clobazam

Generic name: Clobazam

Available as: Clobazam, Frisium, Perizam, Tapclob, Zacco.

Anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) are the main form of treatment for people with epilepsy. And up to 70% (7 in 10) people with epilepsy could have their seizures completely controlled with AEDs. There are around 25 AEDs used to treat seizures, and different AEDs work for different seizures. 

Find out more about Clobazam

Please note:

  • This information is a guide only. For information on doses and side effects click on the generic name above and this will take you to the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) where you can view the patient information leaflet (PIL).
     
  • A first line AED is an AED that is tried first. Some AEDs added to a first line AED are called second line AEDs.
     
  • AEDs are not split into first and second line for treating children age 12 and under.
     
  • Treatment of neonatal seizures (from birth to 28 days of age) is not covered.
     
  • ‘Effective’ means the seizures it works for. ‘Monotherapy’ means the AED is taken on its own. ‘Add-on therapy’ means the AED is taken alongside other AEDs. ‘Tolerance’ means that a drug becomes less effective the longer you take it.

Epileptic Seizures 1

You will find it won’t be very often I do post like this as I don’t suffer seizures on a daily basis.

Yesterday 14 June 2020 I suffered two seizures one Simple and one Complex. Fortunately they didn’t occur literally one after the other, which can sometimes be the case if i take two in a day.

The seizures (or turns as I refer to them as) were approximately ten hours apart.

The strange thing for me I suppose was I was unusually quiet for a while after the Simple Partial, where as it’s normally the other way around I usually go quiet after a Complex Partial seizure