Invisible Disabilities Awareness

Invisible Disabilities Awareness


Modern America does rather well in accommodating people with disabilities through legislation, building codes, and a culture of increasing acceptance and empathy. But anyone who has a disability, or who has a loved one with a disability, knows we still have a long way to go. Included in our shortcomings is how we treat a whole category of disabilities that we literally can’t see.

Disabilities that aren’t immediately recognizable by others are called “invisible illnesses” or “invisible disabilities.” They are chronic, severe health conditions such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, clinical depression, and celiac disease, to name a few. They are shockingly common, and not only do they place substantial limitations on what a person can do, but they also often come with cruel stigma, which Christina refers to as “illness shaming.”

Invisible disabilities are conditions that include cognitive difficulties, mental health disorders, learning differences, physical pain, fatigue, or other physical conditions that are not apparent to the onlooker but significantly impact one’s daily activities.

In her presentations, disability speaker Christina Irene rips the shroud around invisible disabilities wide open through education and story. She mixes her sharp humor with bold facts in revealing her own struggles and successes and sharing touching anecdotes about her friends with physical and mental health disabilities. Her interactive presentations are engrossing, eye-opening and fun experiences that inspires sensitivity, companionship, and a huge jolt of hope for anyone impacted by a hidden disability.

Program 1: Introduction to Invisible Disabilities

duration: 1 hour

Christina’s flagship program is designed for an audience of people with and without disabilities. The program combines topic education with actionable techniques and includes a hilarious game show and an inspiring message.

Program 1 Learning Outcomes:

  • Define invisible disabilities and cite examples
  • Intimately understand the lives and successes of people living with disabilities
  • Understand the “non-symptom” struggles of disabilities, e.g. medical coverage, medications
  • Identify and counteract the 3 common stigmas affecting people with invisible disabilities
  • Master “people first” language
  • Learn 6 actionable ways to be a better ally
  • Discover 5 coping skills universal to disabilities and common difficulties

invisible disabilites awareness presenter

Students participate in a game during a training at new student orientation.

Program 2: Communicating About Invisible Disabilities

duration: 1 hour

Christina’s second program is an ideal follow-up for audiences who have already attended her Introduction to Invisible Disabilities Awareness. It can likewise work well for first-time audiences or combined with the Introduction program for a longer event. This program focuses on how to communicate about hidden disabilities and mental health conditions and again, it’s appropriate for people with or without disabilities and is presented in Christina’s signature “light approach to a heavy topic.”

Program 2 Learning Outcomes:

  • Define invisible disabilities
  • Recognize the 5 stages of diagnosis
  • Understand how the 4 stages of grief apply to chronic physical and mental illnesses
  • Know the 5 ways the “moving target” of chronic illness affects daily life
  • Embody the 5 reasons people with disabilities must communicate about our conditions
  • Implement Christina’s proprietary “Splat System” of daily communication
  • Master the reasons, methods, and cautions of communicating our daily conditions to ourselves
  • Internalize the dos and don’ts of helping people with chronic illnesses
  • Follow scripts to sensitively offer assistance to people with disabilities

Program 3: Invisible Disabilities Craft Event

duration: 1 hour

This diversity-themed novelty event includes teaching from Christina’s invisible disabilities programs combined with the fun of creating customized bracelets and other items used to implement her proprietary “Splat System.” Participants will use their items to establish manageable routines in work, studies, and self-care. They will also become better advocates with improved interpersonal communication and fostering community awareness.

Christina's "Splat System" bracelet featured in her invisible disabilities craft event.

Christina’s “Splat System” bracelet featured in her invisible disabilities craft event.


“Christina was a wonderful presenter! She is authentic, effusive, genuine and compassionate. She does an excellent job reaching out to students. I would have her back to present anytime!”
Katherine Ramrill-Teece, Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, Onondaga Community College

“Christina Irene instantly engaged our students and kept them interested the whole time. Can’t wait to have her return!”
–Wendi Richards, Assistant Director of Educational Support Services, SUNY Cobleskill

I attended your webinar at Ceridian today about invisible disabilities. My sister has physical and mental challenges, and I was hoping to learn how to be better with how I treat people. You are an outstanding speaker, and I really enjoyed your talk! I actually recognized that I have issues I now defined as invisible disabilities (chronic conditions) and I feel so much better about my situation and how to address my own issues!
Robin, corporate webinar attendee

“What an eye opener! We never notice the little things we can do to make our students feel more welcome. Christina has made it evident how to do that!”
Evan, Internal Affairs Chair, Student Programming Board, Le Moyne College

“Christina is amazing and is incredibly knowledgeable with invisible disabilities. She is truly a spectacular individual with a passion for others.”
–Devlin, Union College

“Wonderful facilitator! Very engaging! Kept my interest and broadened my thinking!”
Jane, 68, Oneonta, NY

“Thank you so much for bringing more awareness to invisible disabilities that so many of us deal with on a daily basis. Stay strong and keep spreading the word!”
–Rick, corporate webinar attendee

“It was very inspirational seeing the personal stories. I think everyone should see this presentation so they can be more aware of what others go through.”
Samantha, 28, Syracuse, NY

“Very insightful!”
Johanna, 31, Potsdam, NY

“A well-rounded perspective on the many invisible disabilities that we are dealing with first-had or relationally, day-to-day.”
Whitney, Jamestown Community College

“The presentation was awesome. It was inspirational, emotional.”
Agatha, 26, Houston, TX

“Thank you for speaking out for those who can not find the words. We need more people like you in the world!”
Claire, 25, Tampica, IL

“Amazing session about ID. Opened my eyes to how many people have ID and the need to end the stigma.”
Cayla, Student Government Association Treasurer, SUNY Jefferson

“Inspirational! I learned quite a bit more about things I thought I already knew.”
Laura, The College of Saint Rose

“A great, personalized presentation that invites the audience into a realm which they may be unfamiliar.”
Joe, Campus Activities Leader, King’s College

“You shine a light on a cloudy subject.”
Reagan, 23, Syracuse, NY

“Great insight. This presentation touched all types of ID and kept it light. This is a serious subject, but putting it in a light emotional way made it comfortable.”
Taylor, Campus Activities Board Secretary, Jefferson Community College

“This presentation will open your eyes, your mind, your being, to make you a better, kinder human being.”
Tom, 67, Orange, NJ

“Extremely inspiring and motivational. I appreciate your presence.”
Fabrianna, Jamestown Community College

“You are awesome!”
Maria Mercado, Disabilities Coordinator, Essex County College, NJ


Click here to view more invisible disabilities video.

Speaker Bio

Christina Irene discusses invisible disabilities for awareness and copingChristina Irene began touring as stand-up comedian in 2000, with nearly 700 shows in 33 states. She taught high school English, creative writing, journalism, theatre, and algebra, in addition to conducting comedy and theatre workshops. She’s traveled to 19 countries, all 50 states, lived in four states, and has done an eclectic variety of jobs from tobacco farmer to carnival barker to ad writer.

In 2014, she began to suffer from fibromyalgia, which took over a year for her rheumatologist to diagnose. It has necessitated lifestyle changes and a difficult and ongoing coping process. But, Christina has continued to thrive in both career and community. While not letting up in her adventures around the world, she is building a business, helps with charity events, and serves on her community’s Education Coalition, Planning Commission, and Authority as vice chairperson.

All her life, Christina’s passion has been for people to be able to just be themselves – with confidence and a path clear of bullying, discrimination, or obstacles. Now, as she struggles to just be her own self despite a debilitating illness, she is more emboldened than ever to spread her message.

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