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Types of Disabilities

Types of Disabilities

There are different kinds of disabilities that impair the ability of an individual to function normally. The following article will introduce you with the various disabilities affecting individuals.
Batul Nafisa Baxamusa
Just imagine, you have fractured your leg. You are confined to the bed unable to move around due to the bone fracture. You need help from your friends and family while getting up, wearing clothes, and even for going to the loo! Doesn't this thought of being dependent on someone for your simple needs send a shudder down your spine? Just imagine the pain of individuals suffering from different disabilities. These individuals are a testimony of girth and determination who brave all odds to be able to live a normal life as much as they can. There are different disabilities that can affect an individual. Some maybe genetic, some due to an injury, and a few may turn out to be psychological.
Disabilities in Adults
Before we have a look at the different types of disabilities in adults, let us understand what one means by disability. Disability is defined as an impaired function or condition of an individual that includes cognitive impairment, physical disabilities, intellectual impairment, sensory impairment, mental illness, or chronic diseases. A disability affects various areas of life, like structural impairment, restrictions in physical or mental activities, or ability to participate in different work tasks. The different disabilities are classified into different categories according to the impairment.
Visual Disabilities
People who need to wear eyeglasses or contact lenses to correct their vision are considered as individuals with eyesight disabilities. Many times, people suffer from age-related vision disorders, muscular degeneration, ocular trauma, diabetes-causing eye problems, scratches on sclera, etc. Those suffering from total or partial blindness, color blindness, or night blindness also come under this category.
Hearing and Speech Disabilities
Those who are partially or completely deaf in one or both the ears are considered as individuals with hearing impairment. These individuals suffering from hearing loss are addressed by a politically correct term called deaf. There are hundreds of individuals who have a problem with their speech. Some people cannot talk at all and they are called mute individuals. A few stammer, stutter, and clutter while speaking. Speech disorders also include voice disorders, apraxia of speech in adults, dysarthria, and a very rare neurological speech disorder like dysprosody.
Cognitive Disabilities
Individuals who have learning disabilities or problems with reading, writing, and speaking are categorized under cognitive disabilities. These people have a short attention span, are slow learners, are unable to retain information for a long time, are unable to express their thoughts, etc. People with dyslexia are generally referred to as those with cognitive disabilities. People with learning disabilities are said to suffer from serious mental impairment.
Physical Disabilities
There are different types of physical disabilities affecting individuals, like the upper limb/s and/or lower limb/s disabilities, manual dexterity, and disability in coordination of different organs. The physical disabilities can be either congenital, i.e., genetic or hereditary, viral like polio, injury-related like amputation, or paralysis, as well as physical impairment due to age.
Spinal Cord Disabilities
The most important part of the skeletal structure of the body is the spinal cord. Any injury, temporary or permanent, can lead to devastating effects. Most of the neurons and delicate nerves from various parts of the body run through the spinal cord connecting the brain. Spinal cord disorders are either complete or incomplete. Complete spinal cord injuries are those where there is total loss of sensory function. Incomplete injuries are those where the spinal cord can still convey some signals from the brain to different parts of the body.
Brain Disabilities
Brain injury or head trauma can lead to mild, moderate, or severe disabilities. There are two types of brain disabilities, namely, acquired brain injury (ABI) where degeneration of the brain occurs after birth and traumatic brain injury. Brain impairment can occur due to genetic mutation or anomaly, severe infection, accidents, drug abuse, lack of oxygen during birth, etc.
Disabilities in Children
There are many types of disabilities in children that affect their academic as well as social performance. Some of the different types are due to genetic anomalies, hereditary factors, and a few due to trauma. Let us have a look at them.
Learning Disabilities
There are different types of learning disabilities that affect children. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is not categorized as a learning disability. However, this disorder can cause a lot of problems while learning, concentrating, and following instructions. Autism is another one such disorder that causes problems with the academic as well as the social development of the child. The following is a list of learning disabilities in children.
Dyslexia: Dyslexia in children is a condition in which the child suffers from problems related to reading, writing, spellings, and speaking.
Dyscalculia: Children who have math learning disability, understanding time, and the use of money are said to suffer from dyscalculia.
➜Dysgraphia: Dysgraphia symptoms include children with handwriting problems, who have lots of spelling errors, and are unable to organize their ideas.
Dyspraxia: Children with hand eye coordination problems, balancing problems, and manual dexterity are said to suffer from sensory integration disorder or dyspraxia.
Auditory Processing Disorder: Children who have trouble differentiating between different sounds and comprehension of language are said to suffer from auditory processing disorder.
Visual Processing Disorder: Children having trouble with interpretation of the visual information when reading charts, pictures, maps, or doing maths are said to suffer from visual processing disorder.
Speech Impairment
There are various disabilities that affect the ability of children to speak. These include voicelessness, voice disorders like chronic hoarseness, shuttering, stammering, language problems, dysarthria in children, and difficulty in expressing ideas.
Physical Disabilities
There are different disabilities in children that arise due to congenital conditions, traumatic injuries, or due to progressive neuromuscular diseases. These conditions lead to physical disabilities in them. The conditions that cause physical disabilities in children are as follows:
  • Paraplegia
  • Quadriplegia
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Spinal Bifida
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Cardiac Ailments
  • Paralysis
  • Polio
  • Post Polio Syndrome
  • Stroke
  • Amputations
Psychiatric Disabilities
There are many psychiatric and behavioral problems that lead to the development of different disabilities in children. These problems may persist for a short time or may lead to long-term disabilities. Counseling and occupational therapy for children may help in correcting these problems. These children often suffer from depression, mood swings, anxiety, low self-confidence, or have a compromised outlook towards reality.
Medical Disabilities
There are many medical conditions that lead to disabilities in children. These medical conditions may include the respiratory, circulatory, neurological, immunological systems, etc., of the child. Some of the medical conditions leading to different disabilities include:
  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Systemic Lupus Erythmatosus
  • Juvenile diabetes
  • Multiple chemical sensitivity
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Epstein-Barr virus
Special Education for Children with Disabilities
There are various special education programs designed for children with disabilities. These children need special education services that help them get absorbed in the mainstream. The following are the special education programs categorized according to the federal and state guidelines.
Auditory Impairment (AI)
Children who have a hearing impairment that causes problems in processing the verbal information acquired by hearing, affecting the child's academic performance, require special education methods.
Autism
Teaching autistic children is quite a task. These children tend to have trouble making social contact, understanding the body language of people around them, communicating their feelings, and making eye contact.
Deaf Blindness (DB)
Children with blindness and deafness have a lot of difficulty with communication. These children need special education to learn the different forms of communication.
Mental Retardation (MR)
Children with sub-average intelligence or metal retardation, that creates problems during their developmental years, need a lot of attention as well as special education to help them perform normally. A mentally retarded child may show the following symptoms:
  • Emotional disturbance
  • Multiple disabilities
  • Orthopedic impairment
  • Specific learning disability
  • Speech or language impairment
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Visual impairment including blindness
  • Non-categorical Early Childhood (NCEC)
For many years, disabilities have been portrayed under a negative light. However, the barriers are in the minds of the able-bodied people who do not see beyond the physical or mental constraints of such individuals. Children and adults with disabilities have managed to fight all their impairments and function to the best of their abilities. Hope the above information has helped you understand the different physical, physiological, and intellectual disabilities in people. Be thankful to God everyday if you are an able bodied person. Always keep in mind the proverb, "I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet." Take care!
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.