Disability Types and Description
The examples provided below are intended to be a helpful guide. As per the guide for use [below], the examples are based on an impairment of functioning approach. As such, these examples are not intended to be definitions of disability but associative functional descriptors.
Applies to conditions appearing in the developmental period (age 0–18 years) associated with impairments of mental functions, difficulties in learning and performing certain daily life skills and limitations of adaptive skills in the context of community environments compared to others of the same age. Includes: Down syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, cri-du-chat syndrome.
Specific learning/Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) (other than intellectual)—learning disability is a general term referring to a group of disabilities, presumed due to central nervous system dysfunction rather than an intellectual disability, covering significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of organisational skills, listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning or mathematical skills.
Autism (including Asperger's syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Delay)—Autism is used to describe pervasive developmental disorders involving disturbances in cognition, interpersonal communication, social interactions and behaviour (in particular obsessive, ritualistic, stereotyped and rigid behaviours).
Used to describe conditions that are attributable to a physical cause or impact on the ability to perform physical activities, such as mobility. Physical disability often includes impairments of the neuromusculoskeletal systems including, for example, the effects of paraplegia, quadriplegia, muscular dystrophy, motor neurone disease, neuromuscular disorders, cerebral palsy, absence or deformities of limbs, spina bifida, arthritis, back disorders, ataxia, bone formation or degeneration, scoliosis. Includes: impairments of the neuromusculoskeletal systems including, for example, the effects of paraplegia, quadriplegia, muscular dystrophy, motor neurone disease, neuromuscular disorders, cerebral palsy, absence or deformities of limbs, spina bifida, arthritis, back disorders, ataxia, bone formation or degeneration, scoliosis.
Acquired brain injury
Acquired brain injury is used to describe multiple disabilities arising from damage to the brain acquired after birth. Results in deterioration in cognitive, physical, emotional or independent functioning. May be as a result of accidents, stroke, brain tumours, infection, poisoning, lack of oxygen or degenerative neurological disease.
Neurological (including epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease)
Applies to impairments of the nervous system occurring after birth, includes epilepsy and organic dementias (for example, Alzheimer’s disease) as well as such conditions as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.
Deafblind (dual sensory)
refers to dual sensory impairments associated with severe restrictions in communication, and participation in community life. Deafblindness is not just vision impairment with a hearing loss, or a hearing loss with a vision impairment. Deafblindness is a unique disability of its own requiring distinct communication and teaching practices.
encompasses blindness and vision impairment (not corrected by glasses or contact lenses), which can cause severe restriction in communication and mobility, and in the ability to participate in community life.
encompasses deafness, hearing impairment, hearing loss.
encompasses speech loss, impairment and/or difficulty in being understood.
Psychiatric disability includes recognisable symptoms and behaviour patterns, frequently associated with distress, which may impair personal functioning in normal social activity. Includes the typical effects of conditions such as schizophrenia, affective disorders, anxiety disorders, addictive behaviours, personality disorders, stress, psychosis, depression and adjustment disorders. For psychiatric disability one would normally expect there to be a diagnosis. General issues with behaviour (where there is no specific diagnosis) should be reflected in the support needs data (for example, support needs in relation to ‘interpersonal interactions and relationships’) rather than here in ‘disability group’. Includes: schizophrenia, affective disorders, anxiety disorders, addictive behaviours, personality disorders, stress, psychosis, depression and adjustment disorders.
applies to children aged 0–5 where conditions have appeared in the early developmental period, but no specific diagnosis has been made and the specific disability group is not yet known.
Guide for use
Disability groups are a broad categorisation of disabilities in terms of underlying health condition, impairment, activity limitations, participation restrictions and environmental factors. The primary disability is the disability that most clearly expresses the experience of disability by a person. It can also be considered as the disability group causing the most difficulty to the person (overall difficulty in daily life, not just within the context of the support offered).
A person’s functioning or disability is conceived as a dynamic interaction between a person with a health condition(s) and environmental and personal factors (WHO 2001). Functioning and disability are both multidimensional concepts. Disability is the umbrella term for any or all of an impairment of body structure or function, a limitation in activities (the tasks a person does), or a restriction in participation (the involvement of a person in life situations). The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) recognises two main components of functioning and disability: a body component comprising classifications of Body Function and Body Structure; and an Activities and Participation component providing a complete set of domains for aspects of functioning from both an individual and societal perspective. Environmental factors represent an important new component of the ICF in recognition of their influence on functioning and disability. Personal factors are also recognised but are not classified.
The disability groupings are a broad description of similar experiences of disability and patterns of impairments, activity limitations, participation restrictions, support needs and related health conditions. ‘Disability group’ is not a diagnostic grouping, and there is not a one-to-one correspondence between a health condition and a disability group.
This data item should ideally reflect the views of both the person and the funded agency. If there is a difference, the funded agency’s assessment should be recorded. (If the primary disability group cannot easily be chosen, then define primary disability as the person’s disability to which the service caters.)