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Illness & disability

Girl in a wheelchair with her arms in the air.

Did you know that millions of young people have an illness or disability?

An illness is a sickness. Some illnesses are acute, which means they come on quickly and are over quickly (like a cold or the flu). Other illnesses are chronic, which means they last a long time and perhaps a lifetime (like asthma or diabetes).

A disability is a physical or mental problem that makes it harder to do normal daily activities. You can be born with a disability or get it from an illness or an injury.

Many different kinds of illnesses and disabilities can affect people. If you have an illness or disability, you know that taking care of your needs can be hard sometimes. But you can learn about the skills and support you will need to live well with a disability or chronic illness. This section of girlshealth.gov offers lots of helpful tips. Some things you can learn about here include:

If you know someone with an illness or disability, this section is for you, too. When you understand the types of challenges faced by someone with an illness or disability, you will know how to be a better friend or family member to this person.

You may have heard about H1N1 flu in the news. What is it? Learn more about the flu here.

Keep in mind that people with disabilities are, above all, people who have great gifts to share. In fact, some people who might seem to have a disability don’t even think of themselves as having one.

In the end, teen girls of all shapes, sizes, and conditions want many of the same things in life — to feel good about themselves and their relationships, to be able to take care of themselves and their needs, and to pursue their hopes and dreams.

Want a little inspiration? Check out these quotes from girls who have health conditions — and some great wisdom to share.

Star rule.

Girl wearing goggles and a swim cap.“I had a problem with my right leg from the knee down when I was born, so it was amputated. I joined the swim team when I was 12. One girl told me that I was her hero because I swam with only one leg. But I hardly think about it now that I’m older and used to it!”
–Jordan, UT

Star rule.

African American girl smiling.“My first asthma attack was on the soccer fields when I was about 8. I had to be carried off. A few years later, and now there’s no more soccer for me. It was my life, what I lived and breathed for. But I’m still coping. I have learned how to put my passion and determination into other things.”
–Rene, TX

Star rule.

Girl with curly hair wearing a hat.“I have ADHD, which means I have a hard time staying focused. I used to worry a lot about what people think. Now I don't care as much. I have learned from my disability not to let people get to you. Stand up for yourself!”
–Anonymous

Star rule.

Sad girl with her head in her hand. “I have depression, so most days I don't want to even get out of bed. Now that I have friends that understand what I am feeling inside it makes it worth getting up in the morning. If you suffer from severe depression like I do, don't be ashamed to talk about it. Even if it is just to your closest friend, they might be able to help. Keeping my friends close and trusting in them is how I live with my depression.”
–K.C., North Carolina

 

Content last reviewed February 16, 2011
Page last updated October 31, 2013

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health.

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