News, News and Events • August 08, 2019

Thomas shares how Can:Do 4Kids have supported him…

…throughout his journey living with low vision.

My name is Thomas, I am fifteen years old.

When I was five, we moved to Sydney for Dad’s work, then again when I was nine to Singapore, again for Dad’s work. Finally, we moved back to Adelaide when I was twelve, when I started high school at Pembroke School on the Parade, Norwood.

My hobbies include singing, watching any kind of movie or tv show, going for walks and sometimes I just enjoy doing nothing at all.

I had a dog when I was little, but it died a while before I moved to Singapore.

Since I lived in Singapore, I have had the privilege to be able to travel to many different places around the world. It has enabled me to try new food, learn new languages, and understand other cultures and their ways of life. I visited many countries in the developing world, exposing me to many of the terrible conditions that some people live in. This has made me more grateful for the things I have.

I am a very persistent and optimistic person in general and I love to give new things a go and I try my hardest and my best at everything I do, but I can get bored from doing the same exact things repeatedly. I am kind and caring towards others and I encourage others to push themselves past their limits. I am a good listener and I try to cooperate well with my colleagues.

When I was five and living in Sydney, I would turn on all the lights at night to go to the toilet. This was when my parents and I started to realise what was going on. We moved to another house and this house had a spiral staircase with cracks in the middle of the stairs. In the middle of the night, I was trying to go to the toilet upstairs, but I could not walk up the stairs by myself and this is when I realised my eyes were not normal. My mum and I went to Westmead Hospital the next day and they did many tests on my vision. They told us that I had retinitis pigmentosa.

They said that my sight would get worse as I aged. We started to notice this the year before we left Singapore. I could not read A4 print anymore and that is when my eye condition got worse. Now, I have no peripheral vision, bad night vision, colour-blindness and struggle to see things from long distances.

Can:Do 4Kids supports me by helping me learn new things. My Assistive Technology guru, Tristan, teaches me about how to use Jaws and Zoom Text to do specific work on my computer. He has taught me so much. I can now complete my work more successfully, but I still need his help, as my work gets more complex.

My Occupational Therapist, Analise, has taught me many of the life skills I need to be able to live my life in the future. She has taught me how to cook and clean and has helped me with exercises for improved strength and posture. She has been very helpful in teaching me life lessons that I will value and use forever. I still need to learn some things from her though. Esther, my Orientation and Mobility Trainer has taught me how to properly use my cane to get around like a normal person. She has also taught me how to catch public transport. However, I still need some training, as I have not learned how to use it in every situation yet.

Jess, my Psychologist has been helping me deal with my stress and Chelsea has organised an incredible program known as the Youth Group for blind and deaf teenagers and adults. She has organised so many fun events where everyone can catch up and talk with people like them and form strong relationships that may last for years. I hope that Can:Do’s Youth Group goes on for many years, as it helps blind and deaf people like me catch up with others who are going through similar things.

This is how Can:Do 4Kids helps me every day. I am so lucky to be supported and surrounded by this amazing group of lovely, kind people. I like therapy, because it helps me to grow and learn new skills that I will be able to use when I am older.

Completing all my school work at one time is a huge challenge for me. I get very tired at the end of the day and this makes it harder for me to keep working. Another challenge I have faced is completing the work to the best of my ability. But thanks to Can:Do 4Kids, I have developed the skills to meet and overcome these challenges.

People should support Can:Do 4Kids, as they help blind and deaf people like me to be able to live their best life. Thanks to Can:Do my life’s better. I do not know now what services I might need in the future, but I hope that I can continue to get this incredible support for years to come. The Can:Do team have inspired me to want to work with people needing help, and I hope one day I might be able to join the team and help kids like me.

Special thank you to Thomas, who wrote this himself to share.

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