Disability Awareness (5th December 2020):
Towards an Inclusive Future:The global crisis of COVID-19 at present is deepening pre-existing inequalities. This makes it worthwhile to talk on one of the most marginalized section of the population—people with disabilities. The specific needs of people with different disabilities must be integrated into our thoughts on policy frameworks. With this objective in mind, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) was observed by the United Nations on 3rd December, 2020. It further aimed to increase general awareness on the situation of disabled people, and their rights in all spheres of society and development.
Disability refers to any condition that makes it difficult for a person to either perform certain activities, or interact with the world around them. Over 15% of the global population live with some form of disability. At some point in our lives, almost all of us experience conditions that come in the way of our everyday activities. This is an integral part of being and becoming human.
Nevertheless, people who are clinically diagnosed with disabilities temporarily or permanently experience poorer health outcomes. They are also likely to have less access to education and work opportunities. There are impairments that may be present from birth, or can occur during lifetime. Triggered by biological and environmental factors, these affect certain broad domains of functioning:
- Carrying out general tasks
- Perceiving, learning and applying knowledge
- Domestic life and self-care activities
- Psychological well-being
- Mobility and communication
- Building and sustaining relationships
- Socio-cultural and economic life including employment
Kinds of Disabilities
- Cognitive/Intellectual Disabilities:
- Inclusive of learning disabilities often affecting IQ levels such as dyslexia, and developmental coordination disorder;
- Neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s in which there is progressive loss of structure or function of nerve cells in the brain.
- Developmental Disabilities:
These are varied chronic conditions that arise because of certain mental or physical impairments before adulthood. E.g., Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, etc.
- Mental Illnesses or Psychiatric Disorders:
These may be diagnosed and treated by mental health professionals. Patterns in such disorders are characterized by significant impairment of personal functioning capacities. They may be persistent, relapsing, or even last as a single episode. These include-
- Anxiety or depressive disorders;
- Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia;
- Mood disorders;
- Personality disorders;
- Substance use disorders (repetitive use of drugs and alcohol despite their harmful effects);
- Sleep disorders;
- Sexuality related disorders
- Physical Disabilities:
These affect a person’s mobility and stamina. Some instances include visual impairment, hearing loss, and respiratory disorders.
- Sensory Disabilities:
These broadly affect one or more senses—sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste, or even spatial awareness. This becomes particularly evident in case of Autism Spectrum Disorders where people experience hurdles in their sensory processing abilities.
Dealing with Disability
Adapting to life with ailments is never easy. But there are ways in which one can cope with limitations, overcome challenges, and aim for a rewarding life.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. Learn to accept your disability, and find ways to minimize its impact on your lives.A disability often forces you to learn new skills and strategies. So, always try to take advantage of the things you can do. Set realistic goals, have patience and faith in yourself.
- Ask for, and accept support from individuals willing to help you. One of the best ways to combat loneliness and low self-esteem might be to participate in a support group for people dealing with similar challenges. There you will gradually realize that you are not alone, and benefit from collective wisdom, struggles, solutions, and encouragement.
- Find things that provide you with a sense of purpose in life. Volunteer in activities that you are enthusiastic about. Develop new hobbies and activities that make you happy. Staying engaged is a great way to feel productive, and makes a big difference in your mental health.
Finally, make stress management a top priority by practicing relaxation techniques, and carving out a healthier work-life balance. Don’t forget to eat well to optimize your energy and vitality. Furthermore, our body performs smoothly when it is properly hydrated. Quality sleep is also crucial to flushing out of toxins and protecting your brain. Hence, always prioritize your health…Nurture important relationships, and stay focused on the positives instead of the negatives.
It’s not about people with a disability – we say it is about people with different abilities.