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:
according to the World Health
Organization, disability has three dimensions:1
a person’s body structure or function, or mental functioning; examples of
impairments include loss of a limb, loss of vision or memory loss.
such as difficulty seeing, hearing, walking, or problem solving.
Participation restrictions in
normal daily activities, such as working, engaging in social and
recreational activities, and obtaining health care and preventive
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 a longstanding
condition (for example, diabetes),
which can cause a disability such as vision loss, nerve damage, or limb
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.
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.
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
to the Census 2001, 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; 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
disabilityis 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?
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
mental capacity and difficulty with adaptive behaviors such as handling routines or social
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.
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
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 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.
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
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
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.
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