SSD Community Understanding

In the month of March, we started our Invisible Disabilities Campaign. For this campaign, we asked our community to tell their stories about what it means to live with an Invisible Disability. Using those stories we have created a community-generated understanding about living with an Invisible Disability. This definition will be updated on an ongoing basis as the campaign continues. Head over to our website ( to read previously submitted community stories or to submit your own!

“Not feeling disabled enough” 

“Spoon management expert” (spoon theory)

Invisible disabilities are often chronic, can be painful, and can be mental health disorders. Folks with invisible disabilities may have less spoons. There is a paradoxical sense of being too disabled to connect to folks, and similarly not being disabled enough to access services. This leads to social isolation, internalized guilt, shame, systemic invalidation, and being misunderstood by peers. 

Another aspect to invisible disabilities is masking – both the wearing of face masks, and also the neurodivergent tendency to not portray emotions, reactions, or behaviours that are perceived to be against social norms. Masking can also extend beyond neurodivergence to encompass those with chronic illnesses masking their symptoms. Executive dysfunction was also identified as a facet of invisible disabilities. 

Within invisible disabilities there is also great diversity, personal and community identities, and a deep compassion for others’ lived experiences. The disabled community acknowledges and validates each others’ experiences, and we also identified that creativity is a benchmark. 

Finally, invisible disabilities may come with access to funding in certain situations, and with certain diagnoses. 

Disclaimer: This is a living, working understanding and it is by no means an exhaustive definition. 

We welcome additions and constructive feedback.