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Main Types of Disabilities and their Causes

Oxford learner's dictionary has defined disability as a physical or mental condition that limits an individual's' movements, senses, and activities.' Their natural inabilities do not hold back people with disabilities from chasing their dreams or living their best lives as today.

'Disability is not inability.' That phrase has been doing rounds in our minds ever since we discovered thought. In the early years, disabled people were treated like abominations and mistakes of nature, which was sad because most disabled people are complete and able to make more reasonable judgments.  

Oxford learner's dictionary has defined disability as a physical or mental condition that limits an individual's' movements, senses, and activities.' Their natural inabilities do not hold back people with disabilities from chasing their dreams or living their best lives as today. Numerous rights are protecting them, making sure they live their lives as normal people, without prejudice. There are four types of disabilities; 

Intellectual Disability

People living with intellectual disabilities may find it difficult to retain information, learn, and communicate. Most children with this condition learn and develop much slower compared to how a typically developing child should. There is also the involvement of this type of disability with general mental abilities such as intelligence and adaptive functioning.  

The causes of intellectual disability can result from complications during and after childbirth, or even before birth. Other causes can include disease, injury, or a brain problem, although most of these causes remain unverified, while others are still anonymous.  

Intellectual disabilities are mostly characterized by an individual with an IQ level below 70, combined with the individual's inability to carry out simple mundane tasks such as self-care, communication, and self-safety. People with conditions such as Fragile X syndrome, developmental delay, and Downs syndrome, among other genetic disorders, are believed to be intellectually disabled.  

Down's Syndrome

Down's syndrome is considered a genetic disorder rather than a disease because it occurs when an individual is born and develops with an extra pair of homologous chromosomes 21. This extra pair of chromosomes causes an individual to develop both mental and physical disabilities.  

People with Downs' syndrome express the following physical features that occur naturally;  

  • a shorter neck 

  • smaller ears 

  • Almond-shaped eyes which seem to slant upwards 

  • A tongue that sticks out of the mouth 

  • Smaller hands and feet, etc. 

Fragile X syndrome

This condition is genetic and is caused by a mutation in the X chromosome. The condition is characterized by mild-to-moderate intellectual disabilities, with the average IQ in males ranging to under 55 and over 75% of all affected females exhibiting intellectual disabilities. People with this genetic disability have the following physical features; 

  • Long, narrow face 

  • Large ears 

  • Flexible fingers 

  • Large testicles 

Developmental Delay

This condition occurs when a child develops slower than the normal growth rate of other children. The child might go through developmental delay when they cannot move, understand, learn and socialize with other children. These disabilities might begin as early as through the developmental stage and last throughout the person's lifetime.  

Physical Disability

When a person's mobility, stamina, physical capacity, or even agility are affected by a physical condition such as; a spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, respiratory conditions, hearing, and visual disabilities, etc., the person is said to be physically disabled. Physical disabilities can either be congenital or hereditary, and others might be temporary while others are permanent.  

Physical disabilities, due to their wide array of causes, occur in quite a number of forms, such as;

Acquired Brain Injury

This type of disability normally occurs from brain injury taking place after birth, affecting an individual's emotional, physical, and cognitive functions, or at times, all three. A person's level of independence can be damaged severely by this condition as they may experience difficulties when planning, solving problems and processing information. The effects can be either temporary or permanent. 

Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)

When the blood supply to the spinal cord is cut, or the spinal cord itself gets injured due to too much pressure applied to it, an individual undergoes conditions such as paraplegia, paralysis, and lack of sensory abilities. The changes resultant from SCI can either be permanent or temporary depending on the gravity of their impact. Some differently-abled people with this condition use the wheelchair for movement.  

Mental Disability

Mental illnesses are a group of diseases that negatively affect an individual's thinking, behavior, and interaction with other people. Mentally ill people are not abnormal; I believe that they see life from a different angle, which we, according to some mentally ill individuals, cannot perceive life in. These illnesses occur both temporarily and permanently and are quite difficult for the individual to go through.  

Mental health disorders affect a person's thinking, behavior, and mood, carrying examples such as depression, anxiety disorders, addictive behaviors, etc.  

Bipolar Disorder

This disorder was initially known as manic depression, and it brings up extreme mood swings with manias and depressions. The mood swings occur temporarily and in cycles that can last for hours, days, weeks, or even months. Extreme bipolar disorders often lead people to experience suicidal thoughts and psychosis. Bipolar disorders are caused by genetic conditions and chemical imbalances in the brain. 


Yet another mental disorder causes significant effects on how a person perceives their feelings and causes a lingering feeling of dejection and loss, which lowers an individual's moods. The disorder affects people differently with symptoms such as feelings of extreme sadness, feelings of worthlessness and anxiety, changes the person's appetite, makes them feel physical aches in the body, and an impaired concentration span.  

Sensory Disability

These are long-lasting disabilities that most people are either born with or acquire through their lives. Sensory disabilities include blindness, Deafness, severe speech impediments, and severe hearing and vision impairments. This form of disability is caused through genetic means (Usher syndrome) or injuries and infections.   

Autism Specter Disorder (ASD)

First, it is a lifelong developmental disability that alters how an individual sees the world around them, interacts with it, and bonds with the people they share the world with. Boys are more likely to develop autism compared to girls, and the effects can cause speech impediments.  

Autistic people cannot communicate freely, have restricted interests, and are very sensitive to sensory experiences like the feeling of light, touching other people, or even speaking to them. There is no clear answer to the cause of autism, and autistic people are generally very intelligent and quick to make big moves in life.  

Hearing loss and Deafness

This specific impairment is very well known worldwide as many people live with both partial and permanent Deafness. It is caused by damage to either part of the inner, middle, or outer ear. People with partial Deafness can hear some speech patterns around them and are equipped with hearing aids that help them distinguish the patterns and hear well.  

It is easy to learn sign language to easily communicate with people with hearing impairments as it is a humane thing to do. Sign language helps them communicate with each other, and it is a beautiful language to learn. It has complex hand gestures and patterns that would challenge an individual's mind and form bonds with people with hearing impairments.