Myths about disabilities

Myth busting around disability

Many strange and surprising myths exist around disability. This issue we thought we would share some of these with you.

1. Myth: people with disability are a burden on society and have to depend on others to do things for them

Fact: many people with disability are fully contributing members of society. A disability is not necessarily an illness and people with disability should be treated as healthy individuals. Research indicates that people with disabilities take fewer sick days than other employees. Their impairments may cause inconvenience in particular areas of activity, but they are rarely totally dysfunctional. 

2. Myth: intellectual disability and mental illness are the same thing

Fact: intellectual disability is defined as a person having significantly below average intelligence (IQ of 70 or less) and shortcomings in everyday life skills, for example personal skills such as self-care are inadequate compared with other people of the same age and culture. Mental health disorders are illnesses, often episodic and controlled with medication and often not manifesting until late adolescence.

3. Myth: children and adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) do not care about others

Fact: children and adults with an ASD often care deeply but lack the ability to spontaneously develop empathic and socially connected typical behaviour.

4. Myth: autism spectrum disorders are not increasing in incidence. They are just being better diagnosed, and diagnosed earlier so the numbers are increasing.

Fact: autism spectrum disorders are increasing across the globe at an alarming rate. No one knows the cause or causes for the increase. Better and earlier diagnosis can only account for a fraction of the current increases in numbers.

5. Myth: people with mental health disorders are likely to be violent

Fact: people with mental health disorders are rarely violent.

6. Myth: people with mental health disorders are likely to behave oddly

Fact: people with mental health disorders are usually indistinguishable in their behaviour from the rest of the community. Very occasionally they may suffer side effects from medication such as drowsiness or uncontrollable trembling.

7. Myth: deaf people can’t hear

Fact: only very few deaf people have no residual hearing at all. Even those with a severe hearing loss can pick up certain ranges of sound via hearing aids or other equipment. However, hearing aids do not restore the full range of hearing, and some deaf people choose not to use them.

8. Myth: all deaf people can lip read

Fact: although this is a skill that many deaf people have, lip reading may not be an accurate means of deciphering speech, as about 60% of lip reading is guesswork. It is a skill that some people may not be able to master.

9. Myth: blind people live in a world of total darkness

Fact: only a small percentage of vision impaired people see nothing at all. Darkness is the eye telling you that there is no light on. People who are totally blind do not have the ability to see light, or darkness. They see nothing at all.

10. Myth: blind people have special gifts like a "sixth sense"

Fact: people who are blind or have low vision are not endowed with a sharper sense of touch, hearing, taste, or smell. To compensate for their loss of vision, many learn to listen more carefully, or remember without taking notes, or increase directional acumen to compensate for their lack of functional vision.

The above article has been taken from ACE DisAbility Network Summer 2014 Newsletter
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