There are some common disabilities everyone should be aware of. People with disabilities often live isolated lives on the fringes of society. Just like anyone else, people with disabilities, whether they are medical, mental, cognitive, or physical or a combination, want friendships just like any person not afflicted with a problem. People with disabilities are often judged, bullied, and have myths about them or their condition that need to be broken. Whether you have a neighbor or former high school classmate with disabilities, reach out to them. Call them if you live far away and make plans to get together if you live close by picking them up. If you have time for a manicure you have time to go out of your way to make someone smile. Don’t force a friendship, but if one develops, then great! Here are some common disabilities everyone should be aware of. By learning about them we break down stereotypes.
1. Sotos Syndrome
Sotos syndrome is a rare disorder that causes a chromosome abnormality. People with Sotos syndrome have a distinctive facial appearance with a long, pointy chin and a large forehead. People with Sotos syndrome have movement and endocrine problems, slight developmental delays, and overgrowth in childhood. OCD is very common for people with Sotos. Sometimes, they have vision and hearing problems. People with Sotos syndrome sometimes have a photographic memory. They are very, very kind people.
2. Down Syndrome
Down syndrome is also a chromosomal abnormality disorder. People with Down syndrome also have a distinctive facial appearance, but different from people with Sotos syndrome. People with Down Syndrome can have slight to severe cognitive delay. About half of people with Down syndrome have heart defects, and since many have celiac disease it’s important for people with Down syndrome to avoid gluten.
3. Asperger Syndrome
People with Asperger syndrome are creative, but have poor social skills, often are obsessed with a couple of topics, are anxious, deep thinkers, easily overstimulated, brutally honest, can have tics. They are able to hide their symptoms at times and very detailed orientated. Each person with Asperger syndrome is different.
Autism and Asperger syndrome can overlap. In fact, Asperger syndrome is now just called mild autism. Autism is a lot more severe. People with autism are often non-verbal, although technology can help some to communicate. They have a high risk of seizures and are extremely easily overstimulated. People with severe autism can have very violent outbursts, but this is typical a lot more so with children. People with autism can also be very loving, and ten percent are geniuses. Each person with autism is different.
5. Cystic Fibrosis
Most common in white people, cystic fibrosis affects 1 in 29 white people. Cystic fibrosis is a deadly and scary disease. People with cystic fibrosis often have thirty years to live until they lose the ability to breathe. Let’s try to make people with CF have the best lives possible in their short time. People with cystic fibrosis have mucus that overdevelops and prevents their body from having normal functioning. Poor growth in childhood is common. People fighting cystic fibrosis also have bathroom problems. If you can, please donate to help find a cure for cystic fibrosis to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Just imagine if this was you dealing with this.
Little people or person with dwarfism are acceptable and kind terms to use. The word midget is hideously offensive. Adults with dwarfism are often mocked or treated like they are children because of their height and facial difference depending on the type of dwarfism they have. The truth is that dwarfism does not affect a person’s intellect. There are highly intelligent people with dwarfism who have excellent jobs such as farmer, doctor, and chef.
People who are blind use a walking cane or a dog to find their way around. The brain of people with blindness or partial blindness is wired differently, and their hearing is often extremely keen. Pick activities that are accessible to someone who has blindness such as a music concert or even enjoying some nice lemonade and sandwiches on your porch.
8. Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy ranges in severity. Some people with CP can walk with the aid of a cane while others have a very severe form of cerebral palsy and are completely wheelchair bound. People with cerebral palsy often deal with bullies and are mocked for being mentally disabled. The fact is people with CP have no cognitive disabilities. A person with cerebral palsy can be as much a genius as Stephen Hawking was, a genius who suffered from motor neuron disease that left him completely physically disabled. Cerebral palsy is also a very painful disease.
9. Wheelchair Bound
Do you ever notice how when someone, even a gorgeous woman, comes into the room in a wheelchair a lot of people give rude looks and some even cruelly laugh and point? You would think everyone would be a good person, but a lot of people out there simply are not. Even if non-disabled people are nice, many are too shy to talk to a person in a wheelchair. Ask yourself why.
10. Mental Illness
People with mental illnesses deal with numerous amounts of stereotypes and myths, including from professionals in the mental health department, such as the myth that depression and anxiety are easily treatable. For many, depression and anxiety is very difficult or impossible to treat. Many people still believe that mental illness is a choice. Mental illness is not a choice. Others believe that mental illness is contagious. It is not contagious. While some people with severe mental illness can be violent, the truth is the vast majority of people with a mental illness are a lot more likely to be a victim of violence.
People with mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder and depression, crave social stimulation like anyone else. Be flexible and go where they feel comfortable going, or if they are housebound, such as someone with agoraphobia, meet them at their house. You could go for a walk on a nice day or perhaps bring a pizza over and play some cards in the garage. If your neighbor or former high school classmate has Tourette's syndrome understand that they cannot help the yelps, phrases, and tics.
Remember that every person with a disability is their own unique self. Get to know a person whether they have cerebral palsy, Sotos syndrome, or whatever their condition may be, and their likes and dislikes, and most importantly be yourself.