The following table provides an overview on broad and specific types of disabilities, specific conditions or causes, as well as signs to look for that may indicate when you are working with a person with disability:
Type of disability
Example Disability Diagnoses
What can cause this disability
Signs to look for
Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
Acquired Brain Injury
Developmental or learning delay
Brain injury before, during or after birth
Abnormalities of chromosomes or genes
Drug or alcohol misuse during pregnancy
Difficulty understanding concepts or instructions.
Difficulty learning new skills.
Difficulty problem solving.
Difficulty putting tasks or events in order as applicable to their age.
The exact causes are unknown, however psychiatric illness can be due to:
Substance use and trauma can also make a person vulnerable to a psychiatric disability.
Sudden drop in school or work performance.
Disorganised / erratic speech.
Obsessive thoughts or behaviours.
A feeling that they must do a particular action or something bad will happen.
Suicidal thoughts or behaviours.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Attention Deficient Disorder (ADD)
There is still no conclusive research as to what causes Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder.
Difficulty recognising and interpreting others’ emotions or body language.
Difficulty maintaining focus or paying attention.
Difficulty processing meaning from written text, even when able to read well.
Limited short term memory.
Blindness and vision impairments
Deafness and hearing impairments
Doesn’t react to lights going on or off.
Doesn’t respond when called.
Limited speech and language skills for their age.
Appears cross eyed.
Stands very close to the TV.
Holds things close to their face to see them.
Tilts or turns head when listening.
Acquired Brain Injury
Damage to the nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord.
Severe fatigue or physical weakness.
Poor motor skills.
Involuntary repetitive movements or vocalisations.
May exist from birth
Accident or illness
Rigidity of limbs.
Muscular weakness or ‘floppiness’.
Delays reaching milestones like rolling, grabbing and releasing, walking, running, jumping.