A Sense of Belonging: An Insight of Students with Invisible Disabilities

by lyanez on Novembre 7, 2016 - 4:30pm

Many people do not know what it really means to have a sense of belonging, especially in the transition from high school to college. How about if the question was about how students with invisible disabilities develop a sense of belonging? The social science research article that I will be talking about covers just that. For many students, establishing a sense of belonging contributes to help advance students’ self-advocacy, mastery of the student role, and social relationships.

This research article caught my attention because I wanted to decrease any ignorance and curiosity that I had by reading about a research that covered the three traits of how most students with invisible disabilities obtain a sense of belonging at a university. In this research they sought to see what self-advocacy and belonging meant to those with disabilities. The findings were clear. Annemarie Vaccaro and colleagues (2015) interviewed some students with invisible disabilities to find out if they gained a sense of association by their ability to self-advocate, their need to master the student role, and thirdly to develop their social relationships. They were able to show that this was true by showing a theoretical model of it. In one conducted interview, a student was able to acknowledge her specific needs that she needed by being able to understand her disability, while being able to self-advocate for herself. (679). Some of those needs included; exercise, therapy regimen. All of these strategies helped her feel a part of the college community. We all know that working hard to get good grades is something that comes along with being a college student. The researchers came to find out that when these students with invisible disabilities had a sense of the “college student role” they felt like every other college student in their class, therefore can be looked upon as a student who wants to reach academic success. Students in college that were able to find social relationships with peers, with or without a disability found to have more of a sense of inclusion. Overall, research concludes to find that they want to feel like an average college student whose goal is like everyone else’s: to graduate.

If you want to learn more about this social science research you can click on the reference and see in detail the theoretical model, that breaks down the process for which students with disabilities developed a sense of belonging. The importance of making sure that a student is academically successful is just as important as recognizing them as legitimate students who can do whatever they set their mind to.


Vaccaro, A., Daly-Cano, Meada., & Newman, Barbara, M. (2015). “A Sense of Belonging Among College Students With Disabilities: An Emergent Theoretical Model.” Journal of College Student Development, 56(7), 670-686. 

About the author