I’m not going to get into the details of my disability today. Rather, I’m going to discuss a way of categorizing disabilities that I came up with:
Visible disabilities — these are the ones you can see. A prime example of this is people in wheelchairs. You can see that there is a problem. People in chairs may get treated badly or weirdly (one thing I’ve heard a lot is that people talk louder when you are in a wheelchair) or obsequiously or whatever. But the disability is visible.
Invisible disabilities — these are things like dyslexia. You can’t see them. There’s no sign on dyslexic people’s foreheads that says “DYSLEXIC” But you can fairly easily understand what the issue is. Difficulty with reading. I, personally, learned to read at a relatively early age and have problems figuring out what it’s like to not be able to read easily, but I can tell what tasks involve reading. This is true of most disabilities that involve things we were taught — like reading and math.
Doubly invisible disabilities — these are things like NLD. Not only can you not see them, but most people — nearly all people, in my experience — have a huge amount of trouble even figuring out what tasks are involved. This is because the tasks that NLD affects tend to be ones that are picked up automatically as a neurotypical person grows up — they aren’t taught. Tasks such as being able to tell when to speak, knowing how close to stand to someone, estimating the amount of time it will take to do a task, knowing the appropriate attire for different settings.
I am not saying any of these are worse or better or harder or easier than the others. But they are different. They impose different burdens on the person who has the disability.
People like me have trouble even explaining what our problem is.