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Disability Types

Disability comes in many different forms and affects individuals in very unique ways. Here is a description of the broad categories of disability, frequently used definitions, common examples and sources of further information:

Chronic Medical Conditions:   A medical condition or disease that has been or likely to be long-lasting. Examples: Asthma, Diabetes, Cancer, Crohn’s Disease, Arthritis

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 

Intellectual disabilities: Refers to an overall cognitive slowness in learning and adaptive skills. Examples: Down Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, Foetal Alcohol Syndrome

Council for Intellectual Disability 

Learning disabilities: A group of disorders that affect the brain’s ability to receive, process, store, respond to and/or communicate information which creates a difficulty learning in only a couple of specific areas.  Examples: Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Scotopic Sensitivity 

Opening All Options - What is a Specific Learning Disability 
Australian Federation of Specific Learning Difficulties Associations 

Mental Health Conditions: A range of conditions that significantly affect how a person feels, thinks, behaves and interacts with problems that can be experienced following stressful life experiences. Examples: Depression, Anxiety Disorders, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder

SANE Australia
Beyond Blue

Neurological conditions: Conditions affecting a person’s nervous system including the brain, spinal cord, cranial nerves, peripheral nerves, nerve roots, autonomic nervous system, neuromuscular junction, and muscles. Examples: Multiple Sclerosis, Epilepsy, Asperger’s Syndrome

The Brain Foundation

Physical disabilities:  Conditions impacting on a person’s physical functioning, mobility, dexterity, or stamina. A physical disability can be congenital, or acquired as a result of an accident, affects of medical condition and/or medical treatment. Examples: Spinal Cord Injury, Cerebral Palsy, Amputation, Muscoskeletal injuries (eg: back injuries). 

Physical Disability Australia 

Sensory disabilities: A wide range of impairments affecting one or more senses to varying degrees, including sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste or spatial awareness.  Those with a sight impairment corrected by glasses are often excluded under some anti-disability discrimination legislation. Examples: Hearing impairment, Deafness, Vision impairment, Blindness, Sensory Sensitivity (often a part of Autism Spectrum Disorder)

Vision Australia 
Deaf Australia Inc