What Are Different Types of Disabilities? Symptoms & Management

According to the World Health Organisation, more than one billion people across the world are living with one or the other type of disability. The figures in Australia suggest that 18% of the population in the country is living with a disability. It can make social accessibility and mobility challenging for individuals who have a permanent or significant impairment. It makes the person dependent on others for completing personal daily activities and self-care tasks. However, there is still a gap when it comes to discussing the matter openly. Many people are unaware of the types of disabilities and their appropriate management. Let us shed some light on the subject to better understand the condition.


What Are Different Types of Disabilities?

Disability is not just confined to mental and physical impairment. There are several variations to the condition. We will try to list as many as possible.


  1. Physical Disability

Any type of impairment that hampers a person’s mobility or physical capabilities falls under this category. These are often related to the neuromusculoskeletal system and include a wide range of conditions, such as quadriplegia, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, paraplegia, cerebral palsy, bone degeneration, motor neurone disease, neuromuscular disorders, missing limbs, deformed limbs, arthritis, scoliosis, and back problems.


Symptoms – Physical disability is apparently visible as the affected person loses mobility or normal functioning of limbs or the spine. It limits the ability to move oneself or objects.


  1. Sensory Disability

Any disability related to the sense organs is sensory disability such as blindness or vision impairment that cannot be treated with glasses, deafness, speech impairment or loss of speech, dual sensory impairment or deafblindness.


Symptoms – Vision impairment is either complete blindness or the inability to perceive objects that are at a distance of 3 meters or more. Speech impairment is evident when a person is unable to convey his thoughts and emotions to others through verbal communication. Hearing disability is apparent when the person finds hearing normal day-to-day conversations challenging.


  1. Intellectual Disability

Any disorder that impedes the cognitive and mental abilities which obstruct the functioning of a person is considered an intellectual disability. It hinders capabilities like learning, decision making, problem-solving and independent living. These disabilities include Down Syndrome, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), autism, tuberous sclerosis, and dyslexia.


Symptoms – The disorder can restrict the ability to comprehend instructions and conduct daily life activities. People with autism spectrum disorder are not able to communicate and interact socially. Their behaviour is limited and repetitive. They may be sensitive to touch, sight, smell, pain, etc.


  1. Neurological Disability

Nervous system disorders usually affect the brain and spinal cord and can lead to disability. The neurological conditions include epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis.


Symptoms – The most common symptoms of a neurological disorder are memory loss, numbness, pain, sleep disorder, loss of balance, etc.


  1. Acquired Brain Injury

It refers to any type of brain damage that takes place after birth because of an infection, accident, lack of oxygen, tumour, or disease. These can affect the cognitive and physical ability of the individual.


Symptoms – The visible signs of acquired brain injury include persistent headache, seizures, weakness, shaking, impaired memory, loss of balance, etc.


  1. Psychiatric Disability

It includes mental disability which makes conducting daily personal tasks challenging for the individual. Mental disorders include problems like clinical depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, autism, dementia, anxiety, addiction, and personality disorder.


Symptoms – One can identify psychiatric disability if the person shows signs of feeling constantly melancholic, worrisome, drastic mood swings, social withdrawal, low energy levels, sleep disorder, etc.


Disability Management

All types of disability need regular assistance from a family member or a caregiver. However, the person offering support must be careful of the vulnerable mindset of the individual with disabilities and must deal with them with love and kindness. Here is what should be kept in mind.


  • Teaching Independent Living

The family members or the caregiver should try to make the person with disabilities become independent. It means that they should not do things for them because the task can be completed quickly and efficiently. Be empathetic and patient with the individual and do not force them to do things quickly.


  • Boosting Self-Confidence and Self-Worth

They should be provided with the same warmth and love that any other person in the family deserves. Ensure that they do not develop an inferiority complex and are able to live a dignified life through the fulfilment of all the basic necessities.


  • Increasing Social Interaction

It is essential to help them live a normal life by improving their social and community participation and helping them to become socially active. Many disability support providers help in this regard by organising group-based activities that promote engagement and involvement in the community.


  • Offering Emotional Support

Individuals with disabilities can get stressed and depressed, and it is the job of the support provider to reduce the negativity. They must work on instilling a positive attitude in the person receiving the care and teach them coping skills to stay happy and content. Stress can affect their health, and thus, it is highly vital to make sure that they are surrounded by people who make them cheerful.



Disability can restrict the accomplishment of life goals of an individual. As caregivers, disability support providers or family members can help in achieving the goals by offering the right support, warmth and care.

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