What children with vision difficulties need to know

two girls drawing“A child accepts the way he or she sees as being the way everyone else sees the world.” That quote is from an item published at the United Kingdom’s Royal National Institute of the Blind.

This was certainly true for me, even well into adulthood. As a child, I struggled to keep my grades up. As an adult, I struggled to inch my car into parking places others managed effortlessly. All the while, I attributed these problems to limited skills rather than limited vision.

When I was first diagnosed with strabismus as a child, I received little help other than prism glasses so mild that I felt I could see as well without them, and a brief demonstration of an eye exercise so difficult I could not do it without coaching. But I was labeled “20/20,” so my vision was perfect [See The Myth of 20/20]. The problem must be me. Had I known (or my parents, or my teachers) that it was my vision that did not measure up (not me), perhaps someone would have tried to do more.

But the flip side is that because I did not know my vision was different, I kept pressing on. I determined I could do anything anyone else could do within reason. I’m thankful for the opportunity to achieve. As I look back now, I know that I actually measured up quite well in relation to the abilities I was given. Achieving is fun, fulfilling, and productive, and if you run the race carrying extra weights, the finish line is even more rewarding.Jumping child reaching upward

I guess in the end, what children with vision difficulties need to know is not much different than what adults with vision difficulties need to know: That everyone struggles in some areas because we all have different talents and abilities; that if we don’t try, we won’t succeed; and that if we reach for the stars, we will surely catch the ones that are meant for us.

Photo credit: Jyn Meyer

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