Until the age of fifteen my daughter fit the definition of a “normal functioning” child. Then everything changed and I was completely unprepared for the challenges we faced. She had lost half her vision in one eye, then it was discovered that she couldn’t see the color red.
We saw many doctors and specialists. One claimed she could see out of her eye and that it was “all in her head,” but that doctor still ordered a bunch of tests. While others said that there was a problem with her eye, but they never offered a solution. You can only imagine our frustration as parents.
She was a very bright young lady and I wasn’t going to allow her vision problem to stop her from achieving her goals, graduating from high school and going to college. I had to take matters into my own hands.
I decided to help her focus on her strengths instead of the challenges she had with her vision. I began with the interests I already knew she had: animals, nature, drawing, reading and science. She was already volunteering at a wild bird rehabilitation center in our area, so I found fun and interesting books on birds. Since seeing the color red was also a challenge for her, I looked for books that didn’t have the color red in them, or I would photocopy the pages so she could read them, especially school textbooks. My husband and I made sure that she made it to the bird center every week and encouraged her to share with us what she had done and was learning. She needed to know that what she was doing was important to us, too.
We didn’t let her vision turn into her “personal handicap” and stop her from setting and achieving goals. Instead, we showed her that she could do many things without being able to see perfectly. We explored her other interests, too. This way, when she became frustrated with one, there was always another interest to work on. Keeping her attitude positive was the main goal.
She graduated from high school with a scholarship and went on to college. College had its challenges for her, but she had been given the tools and confidence she needed to overcome the obstacles. She graduated with an Associate’s Degree as a Veterinarian Technician and is currently working for a large veterinary clinic.
Lexi with DaLyn Erickson at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah