Teenage Blindness


The teenage years for anyone are probably some of the hardest and delightful moments of ones life. Its the first time you ask yourself who am I? The first time you figure out what is important to you, the first time you begin to understand who and what you are and what you stand for. The first kiss, graduation, the first job and many other delightful and painful experiences.

Being a blind teenager was profoundly difficult. There were many things that impacted me. The school counsellor telling me that I shouldn’t expect much in my life or expect to have a professional career. My first love then loosing it. The social studies teacher talking about euthanasia and genetic selection and engineering. My socialization being delayed and impacted by logistical issues with my disability. Not being able to drive. Issues with my family; my sister getting a car then the expectation set that she drive me around and take care of me, the expectation that I hide my disability, my family not talking about my disability. All of which have permanently destroyed relationships and connections.

Being a blind parent of a teenager is / was very challenging. The teenage years seemed to be a time when my kids were told what to do what to want from advertising and their peers. Was very hard as a blind parent, getting my life back after a divorce, finding work in the worst economic downturn I’ve ever seen. My kids have fired me. Neither of them is in touch with me currently. I can understand when you are trying to fit in that a blind parent would be embarrassing. Not the norm. When your trying to figure out who and what you are, you really don’t want to feel like you have to take care of a blind parent. Or living with a disabled parent who is unemployed and can’t afford to get you what you need to fit in. Ultimately I want my children to have their own life free of ever having to take care of my because of my disability. I do the best I can. I don’t want my kids ever to have self esteem issues based on only feeling good when you can take care of others. Ultimately such relationships lead to disastrous contexts and personal outcomes. Be true to yourself and the rest will fall into place.

Consider that this musing is from a perspective of a developed world. If I was visibly disabled in this country when I was born there would have been a chance that I would have not been allowed to live, I might have been starved to death as a newborn. Or I may have been sterilized so I couldn’t have children. Consider that in developing countries that if I was born and allowed to live my continued survival would have been determined by my ability to work or contribute.

I had children not knowing what the genetic consequences were for them or their own children. That I blame squarely on my family refusing to talk about the disability. I tried to inform my children once I knew what the genetic transmission pattern looked like. What my children do with their life they will do from an informed perspective.

I can tell any blind people wanting to be parents to go and be parents. As with any parent you’ll do your best. As a teenager of a blind or disabled parent I challenge you. Your character and integrity will be the only thing you have left at some point in your life. What you do in your life will reflect directly on you. I would say don’t fire your parents don’t walk away from them because of their disability. If you can’t live with your parents choices or abuse or other issues do what you must to live. All of us will struggle at some point in our life and ultimately through disease, injury, age, trauma, etc. We will all be disabled someday. All of us need compassion understanding empathy and connection.

About the Author:

Kyle has ocular albinism and has been legally blind since birth. Kyle leads a very active live and is besides his professional career involved in many projects for persons who are different.

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