Different Types of Handicaps

Many tend to think of handicaps as physical, partly because physical disabilities may be obvious with wheelchair, crutches or braces. Many handicaps or disabilities may not be physical in nature, but are still very real. All types of handicaps affect not only the person with the handicap, but also family, friends and all those in their circle of contact.

Physical Handicaps

Physical disabilities or handicaps are revealed in many different ways 3. A person with arthritis might have trouble moving due to stiffness or crippling. Gnarled fingers reveal the ravages of an arthritic condition. Those who've had accidents may have any number of physical problems from neck injuries to paralysis. Different diseases wear down the body. Physical handicaps may require braces or the use of crutches, other walking aids or a wheelchair.

More minor physical disabilities may mean an arm or a leg that won't bend or straighten, making certain movements awkward or impossible. Age may bring on stooped shoulders and frailty.

Physical handicaps also include the inability to hear (deafness) or see (blindness).

Mental Handicaps

Mental handicaps or disabilities are not as easy to discern as many physical limitations 3. Mental disabilities may be a problem with the eye and mind working together--as with dyslexia, when letters don't stay where they belong on the page. Mental handicaps may range from very mild to severe with those who are developmentally disabled.

The term developmentally disabled refers to those not maturing at the level of their peers due to some type of impairment. This might be a problem interacting with others, as with the autism spectrum, or a problem with mental functions and cognitive understanding that hinders learning, thought processes and mental as well as physical responses.

Some individuals take time to think things through. Others can be taught how to interact. Still others have difficultly functioning in society at all, and need both supervision and constant care.

Mental handicaps may stem from injury, inadequate nutrition, abuse, drug use or genetics.

Emotional Handicaps

Emotional handicaps may stem from life choices such as:

  • drug use
  • drug interactions
  • injuries from an accident
  • genetics
  • or physical and/or emotional abuse

Improper use of drugs confuses a person temporarily or permanently, causing emotional damage. An individual may not be able to process reality. Drug use may cause black outs, rages or irrational choices, or cause the individual to be abnormally passive.