Oh hello there again!
How are you?
Today I wanted to share a personal experience with you, it’s about growing up with sight loss. I have already done a post about living with my visual impairment so if you are interested in that then click here.
I have gained a few new followers recently (thankyou by the way) so those of you who are new here might not know that i’m visually impaired therefore I’ve decided to write this post expressing my experience growing up with sight loss. I hope this will be of interest to you and I hope I don’t loose any of my new followers by writing a post like this.
If you read my ‘Living with Retinitis Pigmentosa’ post then you might find that I might repeat some of the things said in that post but hopefully I can share a little more about how I grew up with my eye condition.
This post will mainly surround my experience growing up in school with sight loss so if you want a more ‘life outside of school post’ then please feel free to tell me.
I’m sorry that this might be a plain and boring post but one of the goals I have on my blog is to raise awarness of visual impairment and to make people realise that sometimes it’s not what it seems to be. We as visually impaired people are not different to you who’s reading this right now.
I was diagnosed with a condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) when I was six years old. RP is a very rare condition which normally occurs when people are in their thirties of fourties (but this was obviously not the case with me). When i was first diagnosed i was registered as being ‘partially sighted’ but when I was about 12 or 13 years old I was diagnosed as being ‘Severly sight impaired’ or blind (although I’m not completely blind). I found it really hard to deal with my diagnosis at first (even though I wasn’t totally sure of what it meant) but have now come to terms with it although it is very hard somedays.
Throughout primary school I always felt like the kid who was different to everyone else (this was mainly because of the fact that people treated me differently because of my disability).
I had to get a support teacher who normally visited about once a week. All my work had to be adapted into large print so I could see it properly and because of this I felt different, I didn’t think it was fair that I had to be different to everyone else and why this had to happen to me.
It became harder and harder for me to participate in sports lessons as we would normally play a game of rounders or tennis, I wouldn’t be able to see the ball and therefore would always make a fool of myself by being unable to hit it every time.
My support teacher then had to come to every sport lessons to help me but because of this I felt like i couldn’t do anything, I felt like everyone stayed away from me purely because of the fact that the support teacher was there with me (something I’ve found to be true as I’ve grown up).
I eventually tried to make excuses to try to come out of the sport lessons as I felt so embarrassed because I would never be able to play right.
I still feel a little scared when I attempt to play football or tennis or anything with my brother and my friends as I’m scared if the ball will hit me, so I always try to avoid it (this is obviously not the aim of the game!). But I try my best to grow my confidence!
Moving back into my primary school days… A mobility officer came to visit me once every week, I liked the woman who came because she was very upbeat and made me feel like I could do anything. Anyway, she teached me how to use a white cane (shown in this image)
I no longer use this particular cane as i have grown out of it. (I have now started training with a longer white cane but haven’t got it with me to show you so that is why I have to show you my old one!).
I felt quite comfortable using the cane but after a while I just forgot about it and persuaded myself that I could live without it.
I also learned braille in primary school and continued with the skill when I moved on to high school (i have now learned it in three languages!).
There is not much else to say about my primary school days really, although one thing to note is that I was bullied (something that a lot of people seem to experience these days), but I was mainly bullied for my sight loss. The two girls who bullied me always pointed things out about my vision and would always make mean and hurtful comments about my vision, but anyway I won’t go into that as it is something quite personal to me, I just thought I’d mention it as it was a part of me growing up with sight loss.
When i was in year six (11 years old) and was about to make the move up to high school, I was introduced to a new mobility officer who would take me to the high school once a week so that I could be familiar with the surroundigs. I found this very helpful but when I moved to year 7 I once again felt different to everyone else as I knew where everything was (something no year 7 pupil knows) and all the other people would question how I would know where everything was, I felt left out because of this because I wasn’t experiencing all the new adventures that the other pupils were experiencing.
Now it is in high school that everything seemed to change and get even more difficult for me.
My vision started to deteriorate… This was very hard for me and I didn’t know what to do. I missed a lot of school days because I was scared and I could barely see anything so i stayed home for a week or so just to come to terms with it. I would wake up every day and cry because I didn’t want to loose my vision but I realised that there was nothing I could do. When I finally went back to school I had to do some of my work through braille, my support teachers would stay with me every second of every day (something that my friends weren’t impressed with, and we slowly drifted apart because of this) so then I was just a lonely girl who would always just hang around with her support teachers (as you can imagine this was very hard for me as I had no friends to turn to).
But anyway in some weird way, my vision gradually came better again (well by better I mean, as good as it could have been). I joined my group of friends i had known since I was little (unfortunately they were a year younger than me so I didn’t have any classes with them so I still felt alone), but I was happier than i was.
I still had those times when my vision wasn’t good but it wasn’t untill year 11 (yes the important year with all the GCSE exams) when my vision became a lot worse once more. This hit me hard and I felt low and upset all the time but I learned to cope with it. I had to do all my work through braille (including my exams, this was soemthing
I had never done before) so as well of the pressure of the exams I had the pressure of doing them through braille. But I managed to get through it and got the grades i desired.
I would say that in terms of my eyesight, that was the hardest year of my life to date. But I tried to remain positive and hey I got through it.
I now access all my work through large print and I am much happier with that because I was struggling to keep up with all of the class when i did my work through braille.
You are probably very bored of me banging on about my school life, but that was the motive of this post.
In terms of life outside of school it hasn’t been easy, as I said i often feel down because of my sight loss and I know it is probably likely that I will loose my sight completely some day (a professional has told me that) but there is nothing I can do about it so I try to approach life with a positive attitude and sometimes that’s fine but other times it fails because lets be honest, no one can stay positive everyday of the year, can they?
In terms of getting around, I normally depend on other people (just to go to unfamiliar places) I use sighted guide, therefore I hold on to someone’s arm and they are then my guide, I must admitt sometimes people do forget that I can’t see that well and i have crashed into a few things during my time but oh well, we live and we learn!
I have experienced many bad things due to my sight loss, those of which I won’t get into or this post will end up being and essay!
I have now restarted training with a white cane and I’m doing well (even if I do say so myself!). But I am also on the waiting list for a guide dog, something I think will be very useful to me as I do want to be more independant and don’t want to depend on other people for the rest of my life.
I do struggle somedays, as does every visually impaired person out there i should imagine, but as i said there is nothing I can do so I try to live my life as a fully sighted person would, just with a few adjustments.
I hope you enjoyed today’s post. Do let me know what you thought in the comments, and let me know if you’d like more posts like these because i must admitt I do like a chatty post once in a while!
If you have any questions then please feel free to comment them below or DM me on Twitter or Instagram or even e-mail me : firstname.lastname@example.org
Thankyou all for reading and I shall talk to you all in tomorrow’s post.