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Let's talk about what is not seen.

Around the world, 1 in 7 people have a disability. Eighty percent of them are invisible. Over 1 billion people worldwide have a handicap that cannot be seen.

The word "disability" conjures up thoughts of ramps, grab bars, and other accommodations in our built environment. However, a large number of people have disabilities that aren't always made better by a designated parking space, such as A.D.H.D., addiction disease, and lupus. Anyone who utilizes no physical assistance and walks with a limp may be jostled on the street. A person with autism or a mental disease is sometimes mocked or even attacked for their odd or antisocial conduct.

The Center for Disability Rights (C.D.R.) lists the following invisible disabilities: “learning differences, deafness, autism, prosthetics, Traumatic Brain Injury (T.B.I.), mental health disabilities, Usher syndrome, bipolar disorder, diabetes, A.D.D./A.D.H.D., fibromyalgia, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, anxiety, sleep disorder, Crohn’s disease, and many more.” Post-traumatic stress disorder, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and cystic fibrosis are other invisible disabilities. The C.D.R. cautions, “Unless it is disclosed, no one knows for sure whether someone has an invisible disability.”

While some of us have visible disabilities, the majority of us have invisible disabilities that are not immediately noticeable to others. These could be ad hoc, momentary, or long-term. Physical, visual, auditory, sensory, and processing issues can all be present, in addition to neurological, cognitive, and neurodevelopmental issues. Additionally, they comprise chronic illnesses including diabetes and asthma as well as respiratory and uncommon disorders.

There is no way to keep track of the number of people with such disabilities due to the disclosure issue. There are broad estimates of how many people have, say, lupus or cystic fibrosis, yet some of those individuals may consider themselves to be significantly impaired while others may not. Around a billion people globally are disabled, according to a World Health Organization estimate. Only about 6% of the 61 million adults with disabilities in the United States utilize visible assistance like a wheelchair or cane, according to a census report. According to the website Disabled World, 10% of Americans—including those with long-term medical conditions—have an invisible handicap of some kind.

There may be negative societal responses to hidden disability. Some parents of autistic children claim that it can be challenging to be in public with a child who initially presents as neurotypical but then has a major meltdown due to what appears to be sensory overload. The parents are reprimanded for their alleged maltreatment or lack of response to their child's outlandish behavior, and people stop and look, offer unsolicited advice, and make rude comments. Because it can be difficult to identify on the street who is having an imaginary conversation with nonexistent individuals, the invention of telephones and headphones has saved some ridicule from being directed at those with schizophrenia. However, despite the fact that those with untreated psychoses are rarely hazardous, their behavior can be unpredictable and upsetting. Because this behavior is frequently unpleasant, if not violent, due to the fact that it is not always recognized as the result of a mental health issue.

People with invisible disabilities who are young or who look healthy are often accused of faking their condition or milking the system, and must fight to have their challenges acknowledged. Some women report being told that they are “too pretty or attractive to have a disability.”

Your particular access demands and the obstacles you encounter on a daily basis are as varied as these situations. So you can choose to wear the Sunflower to covertly be noticed in stores, places of employment, public transportation, or other areas.

We think that the better we all understand non-visible disability, the more we can do to help those with them live better lives. Therefore, we are creating an index of disabilities that have little or no externally apparent indications in order to increase awareness of the wide spectrum of non-visible disabilities that our Sunflower wearers encounter. You can now consider making workplace modifications for your coworkers and customers based on their particular invisible handicap.

People with hidden disabilities may experience significant physical or psychic pain that may not be legible to others. The ethicist N. Ann Davis has commented, “There is no reason to believe that the invisibility of a disability itself necessarily lessens its impact or makes the disability less serious.” Disability, she explained, is not “a purely factual matter,” but is always being defined and redefined in relation to changing social architecture and norms. As one group of scholars put it, “Legislation is ‘one size fits all’ — invisible disabilities are not.”

The pandemic may increase the number of impaired people. Many individuals will wish to return to the apparent (and fictitious) social standard of "ability" and robust well-being during this trying time; we are more afraid of illness and incapacity than ever. It will not be shocking if people decide to carry the burden of concealment rather than reveal their newly acquired limits. The stigma has not vanished while we have been in isolation. There is no denying that it is expensive to accommodate impairments. It costs money to not accommodate handicapped persons; whether there is an A.D.A. or not, accommodations are frequently not made for invisible disabilities. According to research, people who retain important personal secrets experience a private hell and devote all of their energy trying to keep them hidden.

The person afflicted, the employer, or a society that would otherwise benefit from the very genuine contributions people with invisible disabilities would otherwise stand to make are all at a complete disadvantage as a result of this personal concealing tactic.

In June Main & Maple Trinidad Colorado in support of Hidden Disabilities will be having a "Sunflower" exhibit. Currently there is an open call for art. Main & Maple is looking for sunflower art in any medium, literal or figurative. Encouraging artists to think outside of the box, or just share their support for those with hidden disabilities.

Click the buttons below to go to the submission page.

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