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Disabilities Counseling and Treatment

Disabilities Counseling and Treatment

The lives of individuals dealing with disabilities are never easy. They often tackle or experience various obstacles throughout their lives. However, there are ways to help yourself tackle these challenges and cope up with the limitations to lead a joyful and fulfilled life.

This article covers the different aspects of the disability starting with understanding what is a disability and how it impacts one's life, the various types, challenges, and symptoms, and the steps you can take to support others or yourself.

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What Is a Disability?

As per CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention),” 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 various types of disabilities ranging from physical to cognitive. Vision, Movement, Learning, Hearing, etc are a few to name. Physical disabilities restrict and limit the ability to move while mental disabilities restrict or limit the cognitive abilities that may affect memory or learning.

How Do They Impact Your Life?

In our daily lives, we face various challenges and struggles which seem frustrating and stressful to us. But when we overcome these challenges with a positive mindset, it helps us to feel better and good about ourselves and restore our confidence and self-esteem. Similarly, there are various challenges that are faced by disabled people and it impacts their lives.

Accessibility, education, access to healthcare, myths, stigmas and stereotypes, Limited employment opportunities, feeling of being ignored or rejected, feeling incompetent, abused or bullied, patronized and relationships are a few challenges to name that a disabled person may face and it could adversely impact their life.

It limits your opportunities and possibilities for new opportunities to progress and grow because society feels that a disabled person may not be able to perform a task or activity as efficiently or effectively as a non-disabled person can. It is one common stigma and belief that is prevalent widely and affects a disabled’s life.

However, all the challenges and issues can be tackled if people become more aware of one’s challenges and have patience when they deal with people with special needs. If we are able to provide more opportunities personalized for them and make our surroundings more accessible and comfortable for disabled people. They can also thrive and flourish.

Common Types

There are various types of disabilities ranging from physical to cognitive but, broadly disability categorized into 6 categories:

Physical Disability

It involves the physiological, functional, or mobility of the body parts. It can be fluctuating, chronic, progressive, or non-progressive. Some of them involve extreme pain to some none at all and some in between two. Sclerosis, Chronic Arthritis, Cerebral Palsy, Spinal Cord Injury, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are few to name.

Visual Disability

Individuals who have a weaker vision of 10% or less of normal vision are categorized as blind while the other 90% are categorized as visually impaired. Cataracts, Diabetes, Glaucoma, etc are a few to name in this category.

Hearing Disability

It includes challenges and struggles related to hearing.

Mental Health Disability

It can take various forms as physical disabilities. They are challenging but can be healed and recovered or minimize the symptoms to lead a better life. Schizophrenia, Mood Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, Eating Disorders, Personality Disorders are a few to name in this category.

Intellectual Disability

It includes challenges and struggles that are categorized based on the intellectual development of an individual which is significantly low compared to normal. It involves permanent limitations in an individual’s learning abilities.

Learning Disability

It involves persistent struggle and challenge to learn and process the information. It impacts a person’s ability to interpret the information they see or hear. However, it doesn’t mean one is incompetent to learn. With the help of personalized strategies and plans, they can excel in learning.

Dealing with a Learning Disability

If an individual has a learning disability, they are probably experiencing a tremendous amount of stress because of the pressure from family, friends, partners,s and the pressure piles on. The stigmas and stereotypes, the environment, and other factors make learning disabilities more stressful. It impacts one’s self-esteem, cultivates fear of failure, social problems, and other associated problems. But, with small steps and support, one can successfully overcome the challenges of a learning disability.

There are various types of learning disabilities including ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, etc. But by implementing personalized strategies like starting with understanding oneself and specific challenges one experiences, help to discuss it with an expert and get the right support and treatment to deal with them.

Secondly, seek and get the help you need. Consult an experienced therapist, have a meeting with a counselor or a trained mental health professional to help you navigate the services and steps you can take that you may find helpful. Also, as having a learning disability may increase the risk of other mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, etc, it is helpful to talk to a therapist or counselor. Their guidance and support can help you navigate and process your stress effectively and progress in learning.

Struggling with Mental Health Issues

We cannot underestimate the impact of learning disabilities. Its impact can leave throughout the lifespan and make one feel stressed and develop other mental health conditions making it hard to get through it.

People with disabilities often face challenges and struggles when seeking out support or access to health care both physical or mental because there are stigmas that make people treat these individuals “Less than” because of their disability. Also, people believe that people with disabilities are incapable of taking care of themselves and not proactive with taking their small steps.

Due to all stigmas, stereotypes, and misconceptions, they often get ignored and do not receive proper support and care which impacts their physical and mental health further causing additional stress, low self-esteem, causing various other mental health conditions like anxiety disorders, mood disorders, depression, eating disorders, etc. These mental health conditions have their own unique symptoms as well.

However, seeking out help and support and knowing that you are not alone who is struggling or having challenges with both disability and mental health concerns can give you immense amounts of strength and courage. It would help you take small steps and progress towards better mental health and life.

The Physical Symptoms

As disabilities can be of different types. It may affect both physical and cognitive well-being. People with disabilities may have physical symptoms that may vary from person to person based on the disability they may be struggling with. However, the common physical symptoms other than specific disability-related physical symptoms are weaker immune system, sleep trouble, insomnia, unusual sleep or eating habits, unusual mood or reactions, anxiety, and stress.

Other symptoms may also include problems with sight, hearing, or speech, motor function impairments, difficulty in breathing, walking or performing other body movements.

Seeking Diagnosis and Treatment

If you are having a hard time dealing with disability-related challenges and struggles, you may reach out to trained mental health professionals like therapists, counselors, or physicians/doctors/providers to get proper diagnosis and treatment. Because there are different types of disabilities and even though they may be somewhat similar, they are different.

Your provider may create a personalized plan and strategies and program to support and guide you effectively to handle the challenges and difficulties of disability. Taking steps based on the personalized program helps you improve your self-esteem, quality of life as well as improve your relationship with your family, partners, friends, colleagues, or peers in the workplace and lead a contented life.

How to Support Differently-Abled Persons

You can do the following steps in order to support differently-abled people,

  1. Ask Before Helping. Never assume that disabled people are less than anyone. They are differently-abled, not disabled, so treating them with respect and equality helps them feel comfortable and confident in dealing with their challenges. In case you want to support and help them, better to ask them first if they need any or not. If they do, what you can do for them. Asking will help you get specific details about how you can support them.

  2. Respect their Boundaries. Differently-abled individuals have their own pace to move, share, speak or process any emotion or information. That’s why never push them or rush them into getting anything done. Give them time and have patience. Respecting their boundaries and personal space helps them feel comfortable around you and they may be able to talk and share their experiences and emotions in a better way.

  3. Educate Yourself. As there are different types of disabilities, and so their symptoms, and treatment. It is important to educate yourself and gather all the information and resources you may get in order to help and support your friend or family or a known or unknown person effectively. Educating yourself helps you eliminate all the misconceptions, stigmas, and stereotypes that are associated with disabilities and give you a better perspective on how to treat and support one.

  4. Encourage Them. Some may be struggling with low self-esteem or confidence. Please remember not all of them like patronizing or sympathy of any kind. It makes them feel less valued and weak. Always make comfortable eye contact, listen to them attentively and encourage them to take small steps. Even though some days may be hard for them, being there for them and reminding them has helped them feel slightly better and motivate them to continue to take their steps in order to progress and move forward in their lives.