Meaning defination and causes of disabilities

What is disability

A disability is any condition of the body or mind (impairment) that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to do certain activities (activity limitation) and interact with the world around them (participation restrictions)

There are many types of disabilities, such as those that affect a person’s:

  • Vision
  • Movement
  • Thinking
  • Remembering
  • Learning
  • Communicating
  • Hearing
  • Mental health
  • Social relationships

according to the World Health Organization, disability has three dimensions:1

  1. Impairment in a person’s body structure or function, or mental functioning; examples of impairments include loss of a limb, loss of vision or memory loss.
  2. Activity limitation, such as difficulty seeing, hearing, walking, or problem solving.
  3. Participation restrictions in normal daily activities, such as working, engaging in social and recreational activities, and obtaining health care and preventive services.

Disability can be:

  • Related to conditions that are present at birth and may affect functions later in life, including cognition (memory, learning, and understanding), mobility (moving around in the environment), vision, hearing, behavior, and other areas. These conditions may be
    • Disorders in single genes (for example, Duchenne muscular dystrophy);
    • Disorders of chromosomes (for example, Down syndrome); and
    • The result of the mother’s exposure during pregnancy to infections (for example, rubella) or substances, such as alcohol or cigarettes.
  • Associated with developmental conditions that become apparent during childhood (for example, autism spectrum disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or ADHD)
  • Related to an injury (for example, traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injuryexternal icon).
  • Associated with a longstanding condition (for example, diabetes), which can cause a disability such as vision loss, nerve damage, or limb loss.
  •  Autism spectrum disorders are a lifelong developmental disability. They affect the way someone interacts with the world around them, as well as with other people. Around 1 in 200 Aussies have autism and boys are four times more likely to have autism than girls.
  • The effects of autism are wide ranging and can include difficulties in social interaction and communication, restricted and repetitive interests and behaviours, and sensitivity to sensory experiences – noise, light, touch etc. As autism can be very variable, the word ‘spectrum’ describes the range of difficulties that someone with autism may experience.
  • Autism is a complex disability and cause is not well understood. As far as we know there’s no single cause. Instead, it’s likely to be due to a combination of environmental and genetic factors
  •  ccording to the Census 2001,[1] there are 21 million people with disabilities in India who constitute 2.13% of the total population. In contrast, the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) estimated that the number of persons with disabilities in India is 1.8% of the Indian population;[2] of which 75% of persons with disabilities live in rural areas, 49% of them are literate and only 34% are employed. Both the surveys included the persons with visual, hearing, speech, locomotor, and mental disabilities, but the distribution in each category according to the two surveys differs drastically. However, experts working in the field of developmental disabilities feel that prevalence of mental disability is much higher
  • Intellectual disability  is characterized by significant impairment in cognitive and adaptive behavior. The term used to describe this condition has gone under constant change over the years due to social and political compulsions. The main reason to search for a new term is to find a least stigmatizing terminology. Thus, mental retardation, which was in use world over till late 20th century, has now been replaced with ID in most English speaking countries. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5th Revision (DSM-V) has replaced it with ID and the much anticipated 11th revision of International Classification of Disease is likely to do so.




What is an intellectual disability?

Intellectual disabilities are disorders that originate before 18 years of age, possibly resulting from physical causes such as cerebral palsy, autism, or non-physical causes such as lack of stimulation. Intellectual disorders are characterized by a limited mental capacity and difficulty with adaptive behaviors such as handling routines or social situations.

·         An intellectual disability describes someone who has a below-average intelligence quotient (IQ) and who lacks the skills needed for daily living. This condition is often formerly known as, “mental retardation.” This term has been widely rejected by most individuals and is rarely used anymore because of the shameful manner in which it was often used.

·         Children with intellectual disabilities can have a mild or severe case. Children with mild cases can gain independence with teaching and support programs and resources. More severe cases require more one-on-one support in school and at home.

Physical disability

Physical disabilities may affect, either temporarily or permanently, a person’s physical capacity and/or mobility.

There are may different causes of physical disabilities but they can include inherited or genetic disorders, serious illnesses, and injury.

Types of physical disabilities

Acquired brain injury

Acquired brain injuries are due to damage that happens to the brain after birth. They can be caused through a wide range of factors including a blow to the head, stroke, alcohol or drugs, infection, disease such as AIDs or cancer, or a lack of oxygen.

It is common for many people with a brain injury to have trouble processing information, planning, and solving problems. They may also experience changes to their behaviour and personality, physical and sensory abilities, or thinking and learning.

The effects of brain injuries and the disabilities they cause can be temporary or permanent.

Spinal cord injury (SCI)

The spinal cord can become injured if too much pressure is applied and/or if the blood and oxygen supply to the spinal cord is cut. When the spinal cord has been damaged, it leads to a loss of function such as mobility or feeling.

For some people, a spinal cord injury results in paraplegia (loss of function below the chest), for others it leads to quadriplegia (loss of function below the neck).

Accidents account for 79% of spinal cord injuries in Australia – mostly caused by motor vehicle accidents and falls. Other causes include cancer, arthritis, infections, blood clots, and degenerative spinal conditions.

As well as affecting the ability to move through paralysis, it may affect many areas of a person’s body – such as the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, bladder and bowel function, temperature, and sensory abilities.

Causes of the disabled

Some women have been disabled since birth. Some women become more disabled over time. Some women become disabled suddenly, because of an accident or disease.

It is not possible to prevent all impairments. Some babies form differently inside the womb and no one knows why.

But many disabilities in babies are caused by harmful conditions of women's lives. If women can get enough nutritious food to eat, can protect themselves from work with toxic chemicals, and can get good health care, including care at the time of childbirth, then many disabilities could be prevented

Poverty and malnutrition

Poverty is one of the biggest causes of disability. Poor people are most vulnerable to disability because they are forced to live and work in unsafe environments with poor sanitation, crowded living conditions, and with little access to education, clean water, or enough good food. This makes diseases such as tuberculosis and polio--and the severe disabilities they cause-- much more common because diseases get passed from one person to another more easily


In today's wars, more civilians than soldiers are killed or disabled, and most of them are women and children. Explosions cause people to become deaf, blind, and lose their limbs, as well as causing other injuries. Their mental health is also badly affected by the violence. The destruction of homes, schools, health centers, and means of livelihood that results from conflicts and wars leads to increased disability, poverty, and disease.

Nuclear accidents

Many people have suffered after being exposed to massive amounts of radiation. This happened after accidents in nuclear power plants at Three Mile Island in the USA in 1979, and at Chernobyl in the Ukraine in 1986. And it also happened when the USA dropped nuclear bombs on Japan in 1945. These incidents caused widespread destruction and death from exposure to radiation.

Medicines and injections

When used correctly, certain injected medicines, like some vaccinations, are important to protect health and prevent disability. However, there is a worldwide epidemic of unnecessary injections. Each year these unnecessary injections sicken, kill, or disable millions of persons, especially childre


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