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6 Reasons Why All Schools Should Recognize Invisible Disabilities Week

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This week is Invisible Disabilities Week. The best week ever for someone with an invisible disability, a time of acceptance, recognition, awareness… (record scratch) except in school. As a 14-year-old with an invisible disability, it is beyond my comprehension why my school goes out of its way for breast cancer and autism, but can’t take five seconds during the announcements to say “Oh yeah, next week is Invisible Disabilities Week — wear white.”

Many students with invisible disabilities are hassled and harassed all the time about needing accommodations. Apparently, we aren’t “disabled enough” (insert eyeroll.) But school-wide recognition of Invisible Disabilities Week could change so much! Here are 6 reasons why all schools should recognize Invisible Disabilities Week:

1. We would be teaching students acceptance. Too many kids with disabilities are bullied. Teaching kids about invisible disabilities will help them understand, and therefore greatly decrease bullying.

2. Students and teachers with invisible disabilities will get the recognition they deserve.
During October, teachers with breast cancer get their names announced on the district website and over the P.A. During April, students with autism get their names put up all around the school. But when do students with other disabilities get recognition? Invisible Disabilities Week gives them the chance to talk about it with their peers, but they can’t do that without the support of their own schools.

3. Educated students grow up to be understanding adults. Too many stories are floating around the web about adults being rude to people who need disability parking but “don’t look disabled.” We can almost completely eliminate this issue by educating children when they’re young, so acceptance will come naturally as adults. By teaching kids that not all disabilities are visible, they gain acceptance for their disabled peers and learn not to assume that all people with disabilities use wheelchairs.

4. We can help many people with a variety of conditions. Since there are a lot of different disability and disease awareness days, we can address many of them in one week with Invisible Disabilities Week. And it gives the school a chance to discuss conditions that affect students at the school but don’t have an awareness day or are too rare to be recognized separately.

5. Adults would be showing that (gasp!) they actually care about kids with disabilities!
Many kids with disabilities (especially invisible disabilities) aren’t exactly taken seriously. It can be hard enough getting adults to listen to us because we’re kids, but add in a “fake” disability and you’ve got a recipe for mockery, laughter, and harassment. Adults sometimes aren’t willing to make accommodations for us because they may view us as “silly kids who don’t know what we’re talking about.” With the recognition of Invisible Disabilities Week, not only would adults become better educated, but could show that they care about us and our physical and mental well-being.

6. It would supply the conversation starter that so many students need. Imagine going up to someone and saying, “Hey, I have a disability, but I don’t look like I do.” Now imagine a child having to explain this to an adult. Yeah, it’s often not pretty. When classes are talking about invisible disabilities, that gives a child a chance to jump in and say, “Hey, I have that!”

Please share this with the school(s) in your area. We need to get the word out and spread our message.

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Originally published: October 19, 2016
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