Common disabilities you will encounter when volunteering

Thank you for considering and taking your time to volunteer with A Heart for China! It’s thanks to volunteers like you that we are able to help those less fortunate. Before you begin volunteering, this page will provide you brief information about the different kinds of disabilities you may encounter. To learn how to interact with people who have disabilities, and the dos and don’ts, read <kids (link to page)> and <elderly (link to page)> for more information. It’s always best to be prepared!

Developmental Disabilities:

·         ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
-          ADHD is a behavioural disorder which causes children to be hyperactive, act impulsively and have trouble paying attention.

·         Asperger Syndrome
-          A psychological condition that makes a person incapable of being social.

·         Autism
-           A developmental disorder of multiple causes. Symptoms can be intellectual disability, difficulty in motor coordination, physical health issues (sleep, digestive issues).

·         Down Syndrome
-          Leads to stunted growth, developmental/cognitive harm; can be recognized by facial features.

Mental Disabilities:

·         Alzheimer’s Disease
-          A disease that progressively destroys the brain, leading to memory loss, disorientation and behaviour issues. The disease can cause dementia.
-          Dementia: injury of the brain that causes memory disorder; personality changes; incorrect reasoning.

·         Bipolar Disorder
-          Mood disorder which leads to extreme changes in mood, behaviour and thinking.

·         Depression
-          One of the most common mental illnesses, depression causes low mood, lack of enthusiasm, frustration and self-withdrawal.

·         Schizophrenia
-          A mental disorder caused by a breakdown in thought, emotion and behaviour, which leads to incorrect perception of reality.

Disabilities of Mobility:

·         Arthritis
-          A disease that causes pain in bones and joints. Caused by age and repetitive use of joints (i.e. typing for long periods of time on the computer).

·         Cerebral Palsy
-          Caused by damage to the brain before or during birth; cerebral palsy causes impaired muscle coordination and paralysis.

·         Multiple Sclerosis
-          Progressive disease involving damage to nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. MS causes numbness, speech impairment and can lead to paralysis.

·         Muscular Dystrophy
-          Causes muscle weakness, prevents muscle movement, and slowly destroys muscle.

·         Parkinson’s Disease
-          A progressive disease of the nervous system. Causes stiffness of the muscles, slow and incorrect movement. Affects those of middle-age and elderly age.

·         Stroke
-          Caused by insufficient oxygen and blood to the brain. Lack of oxygen damages the brain and its connections. Memory loss, speech impairment, motor control (i.e. ability to swallow) and paralysis can happen.

Physical Disability

·         Blindness

·         Cataracts (cloud covering eye; blocking vision)

·         Hearing loss
-          Deafness

·         Speech disorder (unable to speak clearly, i.e. slurring of speech)

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