Dr. Meirow discusses ‘Hidden Disabilities’

Education Consultant Anne Meirow, PhD, assistant director 504 Compliance and Homebound/Hospitalized Services of the Detroit Public Schools, recently spoke to Adrian College faculty, staff and students in a presentation titled “Hidden Disabilities,” hosted by the Institute for Education.

Meirow described hidden disabilities as “physical or mental impairments that are not readily apparent to others.”

Along with anxiety, depression and ADHD, there is also diabetes, epilepsy, allergies, specific learning disabilities, and more. Meirow provided insight on working with children with these hidden disabilities, and how to support them. A key point of the presentation was erasing the stigma around any of these impairments.

She spent most of the presentation focusing on three hidden disabilities. First, she discussed anxiety, sharing that it affects 18.1 percent of the US population. She defined anxiety as typically showing itself through fear, nervousness, and shyness, and it can interfere with attending and participating with activities. Anxiety can also show itself in different ways, such as panic disorder, or OCD.

Meirow followed with a discussion on depression, adding that anxiety could possibly lead to depression. Depression can be the cause of eating and sleeping changes, self-harm, a change in school performance, and personal hygiene.

Meirow finished the session talking about ADHD. She included the statistic noting up to 11 percent of K-12 students may have ADHD. There are three subsets of ADHD, including hyperactive/impulsive, inattentive, or a combined type.

One major idea of the presentation Meirow shared was these hidden disabilities can show themselves in many ways. There is no one certain way that it can affect a person, let alone a child in a classroom. However, she did make it clear that there are ways to help these students who may have a “hidden disability.”