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Impact of Disabilities on Self & Others Across the Life Span

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  • 0:04 Disability: Definition
  • 0:53 Living With a Disability
  • 1:10 Effect on Individual
  • 2:38 Effect on Family
  • 3:19 Effect on Society
  • 4:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Individuals with disabilities often have special needs and face unique challenges throughout life. This lesson will examine the impact of disabilities on individuals, families and society.

Disability: Definition

Think about the things you've done today. Perhaps you went for a jog, ran some errands, or prepared a meal. These simple daily tasks can become more challenging or even impossible for people with disabilities. A disability is any physical or mental limitation that may be discovered at birth or result from illness or injury. Some disabilities last a lifetime, while others may be short-lived.

Physical disabilities limit the ability to move. Examples include loss of a limb, a spinal cord injury, or arthritis. Mental disabilities impair cognitive functioning and may affect things like memory and learning. Examples of a mental disability include autism and traumatic brain injury. Now that we understand what disabilities are, let's take a closer look at what it's like to live with a disability.

Living With a Disability

Earlier, you were asked to think about some of the things you have accomplished today. How would your list be different if you used a wheelchair? How about if you lost the ability to see, or speak, or hear? How might your relationships change? What about your ability to work and take care of yourself and your family?

Effect on Individual

Living with a disability is no easy task. The needs of disabled individuals may fluctuate throughout their lifespan and may involve emotional, social, and financial issues. Depending on the mental or physical limitations experienced by a person, seemingly simple tasks such as eating a meal or reading a magazine can become difficult or even impossible. Relationships may also be affected.

Accommodations, or tools designed to increase independence and bridge the gap for those with disabilities, are not always readily available or easy to obtain. A wheelchair is an example of an accommodation for a physical disability, while extra time to complete a test in school is an example of an accommodation for a mental disability.

When disabled individuals lack independence or feel that they cannot live fully, issues can arise. For example, disabled people may experience depression and social isolation as a result of their limitations. They may also experience financial instability as a result of their mental or physical limitations.

For example, if you require accommodations like ramps and a stair lift to navigate through your home in a wheelchair, you may be out of luck when you venture outside your home. This may make it harder to take care of daily tasks and engage in social events, thus contributing to feelings of isolation and depression. Furthermore, feeling dependent on others can create tension or dissatisfaction in relationships with family and friends.

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