Crippen talks with Jo Verrent about the emergence of some new groups

I’ve recently been working with Jo Verrent, a producer at Unlimited, an arts commissioning programme that enables new work by disabled artists to reach UK and international audiences.

During our discussions we talked about a couple of new groups of disabled people that had recently emerged. One of these groups involves people who identify as being neurodivergent whilst the other involves people whose focus is on energy impairment and chronic pain.

The group that has succeeded in getting ‘neurodivergence’ recognised as a separate term is taking a similar route to those who don’t wish to be labelled as having a specific impairment or ‘condition’, although, some of them still don’t feel confident about being described as disabled people. However, they do acknowledge that the social model understanding of disability is still the best option for them moving forward.

We also talked about the rise of ‘energy impaired’ as a term, which has come into usage through the groups who consist of people who experience extreme fatigue due to a chronic illness. One such group called Chronic Illness Inclusion are absolutely clear they are a disabled people’s led group, and describe themselves as ‘disabled and living with energy limiting chronic illness (ELCI), energy impairment, or chronic pain’. Also, as disabled people, they identify strongly with the social model understanding of disability.

It seems that these new groups are aiming to build a bridge between the large numbers of people who usually define as people with long term health conditions and/or chronic pain and bring them to a wider understanding of the social model approach, and how it is relevant to their lives.

It’s really great to see our family grow in this way as more people identify with being disabled by a society that creates the barriers that exclude us. With enough of us fighting for, what should be our basic human rights, we’ll get there in the end.

Come the revolution brothers and sisters!

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

The cartoon consists of a young modern Asian disabled woman, sitting on a chair and facing her non-disabled parents. She is holding a piece of paper with ‘ Energy impairment and the social model’ printed upon it. Her mother, who wears modern, western style dress is saying to her: “What do you mean – you’re disabled?!” Her father, wearing a t-shirt and shorts adds: “We’ve been telling people that you just feel a bit tired!”

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Marie Saunders on 14/11/2022 at 13:52

    Hi, I am a counselling BSc Honours students researching Ableism within the field of academia and employment within counselling and psychological studies. I am a wheelchair user and was suprised at how difficult it was to find an accessible placement and at the discrimination some of my peers with less visible disabilities have faced. Is it ok to use this picture within my research paper? Many thanks and kind regards Marie


    • Hi Marie,

      no problem. I have a vast resource of training cartoons etc which I would be happy for you to use. Send me some of your training materials and I’ll see what I’ve got that will link across. I’ve also got several strip cartoon explanations of the social model understanding of disability which could be useful. I’ll send these to you. Kind regards,



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