Navigating Blindness is thrilled to launch part 2 in our series “It Takes a Village.” Today we will hear from Wendy Rankine as she describes who’s in – and who’s out – of her son’s village including doctors, teachers, coaches, and family.
We’d love to hear from you too. If you’d like to share your story, please reach out for specifications using our contact form. Thank you!
Guest post by Wendy Rankine
Our oldest son, William, was born with LCA. We were VERY fortunate that he was diagnosed quickly. At William’s 3-month check-up, our pediatrician immediately sent us over for William to be evaluated by an older Ophthalmologist. We are in Central Georgia, and this local Ophthalmologist listed 5 things on his referral note to a Pediatric Ophthalmologist at Emory in Atlanta that William could possibly have. LCA was one of those 5 things. As soon as I read the description of LCA, I knew that is what William had. At 5 months William was diagnosed by the Pediatric Ophthalmologist at Emory with LCA and by the time William was 13 months old genetic testing confirmed it. William does not have any other issues developmentally. We didn’t need big-name hospitals, we just needed wise old doctors who had seen a lot in their careers that could quickly and easily guide us in the right direction.
We have needed teachers to come alongside us and teach our son and for the most part, we have been VERY blessed. Each step of the way we have said our goal is for William to learn the material – not to receive a “blind pass” simply because they cannot understand how a blind person could even understand the material. One teacher who was not so great was my son’s 3rd-grade teacher. She did not think William should be in gifted math and told us that. My son’s 4th-grade teacher said that teacher was wrong. “William, you are slow, not dumb. You get the material it just takes you longer to do the problems.” Then he didn’t think William would be able to keep up the pace through middle school and that made William want to prove him wrong too. But William was forever grateful for his 4th-grade teacher telling him how he was just slow and not dumb, on many occasions, and helping him see beyond what his 3rd-grade teacher said. I have no idea how William grasps Geometry and other math and science concepts, but he does and he loves it. William has always been ready to prove people wrong, but he is also learning that not everyone is worth the effort, such as his initial Chemistry teacher in 10th grade. Thankfully, he was able to quickly switch to a new teacher and we believe it is going to work out just fine.
“William has always been ready to prove people wrong, but he is also learning that not everyone is worth the effort…” – Wendy Rankine
Aside from teachers, we found a sport that William loves. He loves swimming. He is not as competitive as he needs to be and that may or may not come. However, William loves the feeling of being part of a team, he can physically exert his energy while being treated like his sighted peers. His coach is someone who encourages him to keep going and accepts him as part of the team like everyone else.
In addition to teachers and coaches, family support has been huge. William has always been very close to my parents. Their home has been a place for him to escape from us and be on his own. He finds ways to help my mom, now that my Dad has passed away, and enjoys time alone. William does not have many friends. He relates much better to adults and we have accepted that and while we encourage him to try and develop friendships, we do not stress about that and allow him time alone with his family.
In conclusion, we have found it doesn’t matter so much if someone has ever worked with a blind person, but we have found it more important to see if the person is willing to learn and do things differently. If they are, we are going to get along just fine and figure it out. If not, it is time to move on.
You can find Wendy and her fabulous family on Facebook.