Is this book for you?

Do you have an invisible disability?
Does someone in your family live with AD/HD, dyslexia, Asperger’s Syndrome/Autism Spectrum Disorder, a learning disability, or an affective disorder like depression?
Are you or an invisibly disabled person you know in college or preparing for college?
Are you the parent of an invisibly disabled child whom you would like to eventually prepare for college?
Are you an educator or support staff for disabled students?

These are the people who are the primary audience for this book.
While the title might indicate that only those who are going to study science, technology, math, or engineering might find the book useful, this is not the case. STEM fields are singled out because many of the invisibly disabled students who study in these fields are very intelligent and may not have developed study habits prior to leaving high school. Regardless of if a student has or needs to develop study habits though, this book provides guidance and information for invisibly disabled students, their families and supporters.

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This handbook can help families prepare a younger student years in advance of the child’s entering college, by giving insight into the changes in academic expectations a student will face, and changes in legal status that a family will face. It can also help teachers and aids realize the kinds of independence that a range of disabled students need to develop prior to graduation.

If a student is already in college, then the book will be helpful in knowing who students and families can talk to for different types of academic and emotional support. Families may for example, know about the disability support person on campus but are they aware of the learning centers? Do they realize the importance of the Housing staff? Do families know when is it appropriate for parents or caregivers to intercede on their student’s behalf? How can a family assist their student in obtaining the support the student does need?

For those working in higher education there are insights provided regarding the challenges different disabilities present for students. Medications wear off, brains function differently when processing the same types of information, while the majority of disabled students live with multiple disabilities.

Containing some of the ‘insider’ knowledge of how higher education works, this book is a handy reference for students and families. It also provides insight for educators who may not realize what families are facing in preparing their invisibly disabled student, or the particular challenges that invisibly disabled students face when learning and living.


Available now directly from Jessica Kingsely Publishers or through booksellers.


What does it mean to be “invisibly” disabled?


You may hear the term invisibly disabled and wonder, what does that really mean?

This term refers to the difference between those disabilities which a person can observe in another person, due to the accommodations a disabled person uses, and disabilities which are not visible at a quick glance. For example, we can “see” a wheelchair, a service dog, or a personal assistant which makes the fact that a person has a disability ‘visible’.

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Socially, we expect to ‘see’ when someone is disabled and it is not uncommon for people to assume that when they cannot ‘see’ a clear sign of a disability, then the person who for example, parks with a disabled placard but walks away from their car “isn’t really disabled.” Disability comes in many forms and the majority of them cannot be seen by glancing at another person.

[note: accessible parking placards are not given to everyone who is disabled; if they were then closer to 20% of all cars would have them –  .]

Invisible disabilities which are most common among college students tend to include the following: autism spectrum/Asperger’s; attention deficit/hyper active disorder; anxiety spectrum disorder including obsessive compulsive and post traumatic stress disorder; affective disorders including depression;dyslexia; dyscalculia;  language processing disorder;  learning disability.

Additionally, universities are seeing increasing numbers of students living with Crohn’s disease, closed head injuries, diabetes, epilepsy, and multiple, sever allergies.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of all invisible disabilities – just the most common among the population of college students. There are two reasons I point this out.


First, having any of these disabilities does not preclude a person from being successful in college. And secondly, it is helpful for students with these disabilities to realize that they are not alone on their campuses — other students live with similar disabilities and disability service providers, professors, and administrators are learning about how best to accommodate the range of learning styles in a classroom or dormitory hall that students will have.

This remains a challenging but exciting time for students with invisible disabilities. Every year new opportunities develop, new support technologies are made available, and public awareness grows a little more. College continues to become more accessible for more people.