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Invisible disabilities affect millions

Athens Daily Review - 7/26/2019

Jul. 26--When you see a person in a wheelchair you'd probably guess they're dealing with a disability, but Special Education Advocate Sandy Houston told the Athens Kiwanis Club members on Tuesday there are millions dealing with disabilities that are not so easily detected.

"About 75 percent of people with disabilities have invisible disabilities," Houston said.

Depression, ADD, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, diabetes and brain injuries are examples of invisible disabilities.

"Fortunately, our society has become more enlightened to this topic," Houston said. "Fifty years ago I began teaching students with disabilities in Irving, Texas. At that point we were really in the dark ages of treating them."

Houston said one person with an invisible disability described dealing with the problem to being a duck. The duck looks calm and contented, but below the surface is paddling hard to stay afloat.

Many businesses today are using people with disabilities, Houston said, that can actually make them more suitable for repetitive tasks than a person who is not dealing with the disability.

"For example, in Colorado, there are businesses that deal with repairing laptops and other computers that disabled people can do," Houston said. "In Waxahachie, Texas people with disabilities are dealing with tulips. They're planting, selling and advertising them."

A story in Psychology Today said many conditions can affect everyday activities.

"The decision about whether to disclose an invisible disability to others can weigh heavily on an individual, making social and work situations especially challenging."

According to the story, research shows that the burden of concealing a disability creates strain in social and work situations that might negatively affect health and well-being.

Houston said Texas A&M has instituted a new program called Aggies Achieve.

"This is the first four-year school in Texas that has had a program for students with mild disabilities," Houston said. "They're starting with four students this fall."

The Texas A&M website explains the program.

"The intention is to provide a rigorous education, academics and employment experience that will prepare these young adults to go out and work in the community in a job they are interested in that matches their strengths."

Students who complete the program will receieve a certificate.

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(c)2019 the Athens Daily Review (Athens, Texas)

Visit the Athens Daily Review (Athens, Texas) at www.athensreview.com

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