Lies, damn lies and statistics

Ah, our old friend the statistic.  Figures state that 6% of children and 16% of working age adults are disabled.  Personally, I’d put the numbers much higher than that although it depends on what people think of as a disability, whether they consider themselves to have one and whether they are willling to admit to it.

A disability is generally accepted to be some kind of impairment which affects the ability to do day-to-day tasks.  Yet people have conditions that aren’t obvious or do not affect them every single day – like a headache only affects you on days you have it, sometimes a disability isn’t severe enough to be a problem on ‘good’ days.  Let’s take a quite common, if rarely admitted to, condiion like depression.  Few people would characterise this as a disability but it affects your personal and professional lives: you might find it difficult to concentrate or complete tasks, taking care of yourself seems pointless sometimes.  but it’s not a disability in many eyes because sometimes it fades away and you can copes.  but, in my opinion, it is a disability because it has some impact on life no matter how intermittent.  So the figure is already a few dozen percent more.  Diabetes is a disability because a person might have to take time out of their daily lives to manage blood sugar issues.  Dyslexia is a disability because problems with letters and numbers might require special aids or assistance.  Do people understand that these illnesses are disabilities?

A lot of people pretend any issues they have are not serious enough to declare as disability and this is largely due to the stigmatising of disabled people as being somehow less than an able bodied person.  I can’t just not mention my own disability and hope people won’t notice – a wheelchair is pretty hard to ignore.  Is this, a visible, condition the only thng being considered?  My heart says yes… usually.  If you had a condition you could hide away, wouldn’t you?  In all truth, I would if I could.  I can’t blame others for not wanting to admit to a disability if they had the choice.

The figure for disabilties in people above working age rises to 45%.  There could be any number of reasons for this dramatic rise – the number of people more willing tfo accept it now there are fewer reasons to deny it, the prevalence of aging and time-related conditions, older people perhaps thiinking it’s socially more acceptable to be disabled at an advanced age.  All power to them.  Maybe society as a whole could learn a little bit from them and just accept our illnesses, injuries and disabilities without trying to deny them.

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