What are hidden disabilities?

Everybody’s different, we all have our own thoughts, feelings, opinions and strengths. And there are lots of ways to make sure everyone can be included.

One in every five people have a disability, some of which can’t be seen by other people. These are called hidden disabilities. For example, someone might have sensory loss, autism or long term conditions such as diabetes.

Disabled and non-disabled people have the right to be respected and feel included. Sometimes people with hidden disabilities find they have to explain what they need a lot, which can make it harder to spend time with people, make friends or take part in hobbies or sport.

A person with a hidden disability might need the noise or light levels to be considered, be given more time to do something or take more breaks. Or they might need others to think carefully about how they communicate and describe things.

Tips to help everyone feel included

  • remember that everyone can join in with the right adjustments
  • it's ok to ask someone what they need from you
  • remember that someone’s needs might change over time, even if they’ve told you what they need before
  • make an effort to get to know someone. Find things you have in common and share your likes and dislikes.