I want to push back on this term "invisible disabilities" because so much of the time it is actually just a nondisabled person's failure to "perceive" someone's disability. It is just poor bodymind literacy coupled with the assumption that nondisability is the norm.
If you go into every situation assuming a person is nondisabled AND you don't have the disability competence to notice the many subtle ways we inhabit and signal our disabilities, of course you'll miss most of us.
Failure to perceive disability and pick up on disability culture cues does not render disability "invisible".
Spend enough time with crip folk and you notice how often a person sits or leans, how someone holds or adjusts their body, how pain can sound almost like an accent, how energy or attention ebbs, how moods flow, how communication varies, etc. You develop better bodymind literacy.
You start to clue into terms like spoons and fatigue. You start to notice nonmedical aids and supports that serve a medical purpose. You start to appreciate a certain way of communicating about bodyminds and needs, a certain way of framing care and delivering mutual aid.
In short, you start to perceive these so-called "invisible disabilities"; they're not invisible anymore. It no longer surprises you that 20-25% of the population is disabled because you notice it everywhere.
And speaking of disability being everywhere: if we just start to assume disability until we learn otherwise, then no disability is "invisible" because disability can "look like" anything and anyone.
To clarify: use whatever term you identify with! My beef with "invisibility" isn't the term but what it implies; it privileges the perceptions of nondisabled people who have poor bodymind literacy and who start from a premise that will be false at least 1/4 of the time.
Oh gosh and my disability! #EDS is frequently referred to as "invisible" unless a person is using a mobility aid or braces, but EDSers can often spot one another a MILE away!!! Just because you don't know what you're looking at doesn't make it invisible.
Hey pals, I am so delighted that this thread resonated for a lot of folks! I'm not able to keep up with the responses, but I think you're all absolutely wonderful, and I see your disabilities.
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