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  • Writer's pictureDemi Lynch

Why Are We Still Questioning Others' Disabilities?

There’s been many discussions about disabilities in the media this past week.

Media personality and podcaster Em Rusciano was publicly accused of lying about her ADHD and autism diagnosis.

And actress Chloé Hayden was barred from Marvel Stadium’s sensory room as she apparently didn’t look “autistic enough.”

Sadly situations like these are far too common in the disability community.

So I decided to ask my followers to share their stories of when people doubted their disabilities.

Unfortunately MANY of you have experienced this type of ableism, and for most of you it seems to be on a daily basis.

Here is what you had to say...


"I often get told I don't look disabled, which is true, for most people I don't. The main reason is that during a flare I don't leave the house and don't have the energy to see anyone. I've also had people doubt my disability because I sometimes try to have fun / a life. They don't see the prepping and careful planning beforehand, emergency meds for during an event and weeks of recovery afterwards. And of course the parking permit issues, especially being young and fat, so [people think] I must be lazy." - Rose

"I use mobility aids and struggle with chronic pain. I once had a stranger approach me and tell me I was 'too young to be walking the way I was and needing mobility aids.' She then stated 'God, I'm in my eighties, and look at you, what will you be like when you're my age?'" - Jen

"Despite having multiple autoimmune conditions, my mother used to love telling me if I went for a walk occasionally and lost some weight I'd feel better. My step-father used to tell me there's nothing wrong with me I'm just lazy. I stopped talking to both of them several years ago." - Amy

"I have heard many [people say] 'some of us don't get to lie around in bed all day.' Like, sorry for being chronically ill, I guess!" - Sarah

"When I tell people I have Autism, the most common response I get is 'you don’t look autistic.' Since I was a teenager, I started to mask as for my whole life I really struggle to make friends." - Blake

"Had a teacher tell me my child can’t be autistic because 'he’s too smart' and questioned the validity of two reports confirming [his] diagnosis." - Dianne

"My partner (28yo m) has a colostomy bag and requires to change and/or empty it in public sometimes. He has been abused by elderly (and carers of elderly) for using the disabled bathroom, because once he puts his shirt down, you can barely notice the bag on his tummy. He usually just flashes his bag and the seem to pipe down… but it does my head in - he doesn’t owe them any explanation!" - Rochelle

"I'm 29 & look 'healthy' but I have Ankylosing Spondilitis, which is a degenerative disease that affects my spine. I was wrongly diagnosed at first so went three years without treatment and I became really ill, to the point I was essentially housebound & almost became bedbound. People would constantly bug me about when i was going to get some hobbies, that I should exercise more etc when it was a struggle for me to even get up to use the toilet." - Nadia

"I have ADHD, I struggle with friend groups a lot, since growing through unmasking I’ve lost most of my friends because ‘I’m too hard to deal’ with or I’ve become ‘high maintenance’ just due to missing social cues and sensory issues. I feel like people judge me straight off the bat and just hate me and never give me a chance so I never make friends either, I'm exhausted to the point I don’t even try anymore ‘cause it makes me so fucking depressed." - Sandra

"My aunt has a disability parking permit due to a back injury and is unable to walk very far without pain. She's frequently accosted at shopping centres by people accusing her of parking illegally even though her permit is displayed." - Jan

"[I have] multiple chronic illnesses and an autoimmune disease. Family still make fun of me and call me lazy when I have capacity issues or go a bit slower. I end up trying harder and making myself sicker to overcompensate which I need to stop doing." - Sam

"I have myalgic encephalomelitis or M.E. amongst other things. It’s on the mild-moderate end of the scale. There are no tests to confirm, just a criteria, and even some doctors are sceptical. Invisible disabilities can be so difficult. People say things like 'oh I don’t see you that way' or 'I wouldn’t use that word.' As if being disabled should be feared or people protected from it. It’s still me." - Zed

"After I was diagnosed with ADHD at 45, I told my extended family. As I described some of my challenges as someone with ADHD to my sister-in-law she said 'everyone's like that.' Ah, no they aren't. Don't invalidate my life. Maybe go get yourself assessed if you relate, instead of treating me like a child." - Emily

"I have Crohn’s disease, ADHD, and a number of neurological & sensory issues. I spent 10 years of my life (14-24) in debilitating pain until I had a bowel obstruction and sepsis and almost died because no one believed I was in pain and my family and doctors told me It was all in my head. Even after getting diagnosed, having part of my bowel removed and being unable to work or study for two years, people reject me when I tell them I am disabled. Not being believed is deadly and scary and isolating." - Jane

*Names have been changed

Header Image Source: Canva


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