The Problem with the Disability Mindset

Yesterday I read a report from a health insurance company called Unum, which provides many different types of insurance to employers and employees. Among their offerings is long term disability insurance.

In 2020, the company released a report highlighting the need for disability insurance. The need became vital during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the report, they discuss mental health conditions, and disability insurance. The report discusses the disability mindset.

According to Unum, the disability mindset occurs when an employee who is ill or disabled focuses on their disabilities rather than their skills and abilities. When an employer speaks to or treats an employee in a way that fosters emotions of shame or inadequacy, it can be difficult to break that mindset. At its core, this mindset might make an employee believe that they would never be able to recover and resume their pre-disability life.

Cerebral Palsy is a disability that is present early in life. I am 23 years old. Life with Cerebral Palsy is all I’ve ever known. I began using a walker by the time I was a toddler and received therapy services throughout my childhood.

I will never know what it is like to be non-disabled. Recovering from Cerebral Palsy is not possible. Managing my symptoms allows me to have a better quality of life. I have had three surgeries, and multiple rounds of Botox and Phenol injections, which help reduce spasticity.

Cerebral Palsy impacts everything in my life, including employment. Currently, I am unemployed. I’ve been looking for employment since 2019. Merely the mention of my disability makes employers uninterested in hiring me.

I wouldn’t want to work for an employer who was hesitant regarding my disability. I would gladly help them understand my needs. The more my needs are met, the more successful I will be. However, if they didn’t hire me because of inaccessibility or other disability-related issues, it is not my problem to address.

Cerebral Palsy affects every aspect of my life. From my hobbies to my career goals to my self-esteem, there’s nothing CP hasn’t affected. Disabled people deserve to be treated equally. Despite our challenges, we are human beings just like anybody else.


“Pandemic Highlights Need for Disability Insurance .” Unum Group, Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company, Apr. 2020,

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