Shining a Spotlight on Invisible Disabilities

Shining a Spotlight on Invisible Disabilities

You may already be aware that this week is Invisible Disabilities Week. The campaign by the Invisible Disabilities Association (IDA) began in 2014, and in 2019 it runs from Oct. 13 to 19.

The IDA defines an invisible disability as “a physical, mental or neurological condition that is not visible from the outside, yet can limit or challenge a person’s movements, senses, or activities.” If that doesn’t describe fibromyalgia, I don’t know what does.

If you’re unfamiliar with the IDA, you might want to visit the organization’s website to learn about its programs. Two features of particular interest to me are the Cleaner Indoor Air campaign and Programs 4 People.

The IDA’s campaign for cleaner indoor air targets medical facilities, businesses, and churches. An excellent article, “Choose Friendships Over Fragrances,” describes how perfumes, laundry, and household detergents are laden with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and how many people report adverse health effects from exposure to everyday consumer products.

As someone who suffers from multiple chemical sensitivity, I’m invested in this campaign. I have recently adopted a policy of short visits to my family, who don’t realize how badly I’m affected by the perfumed dryer sheets they use on their bed linens and towels.

On a recent visit, despite my exhaustion at bedtime, the chemical taste, runny eyes, and headache from a scented dryer sheet kept me awake. After trying in vain to suffer in silence, I had to get up and remake my bed. Thankfully, my pillowcase was not affected, so I solved my problem by covering the bottom sheet with a blanket and removing the top sheet.

I’ve mentioned my issue with scents to my family in the past. While they were sympathetic at the time, I don’t visit often, and as they are not affected, they’d forgotten about it.

I hope that the IDA’s campaign is successful at encouraging its targeted organizations to adopt and publicize its no-fragrance policies. If the campaign is successful, eliminating products containing VOCs from the environment will become a mainstream idea like recycling is today.

The Programs 4 People page is a comprehensive listing of resources for people with disabilities. The page contains links to online resources and organizations that can help if you’re having difficulty performing the duties of your job, wondering what your rights are, considering filing for disability, or need assistance with housing.

Let’s wish the Invisible Disabilities Association a very successful Invisible Disabilities Week. Its success is our success.



Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.

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