Two-year-old Zara is a happy, gregarious and engaging little girl who just loves people. But unlike most of us, she can’t rely on her vision to aid her interactions. Zara was born with optic nerve hypoplasia (under-developed optic nerves), nystagmus and astigmatism in both eyes, all of which means she has only very limited sight.
Zara’s mum Angela admits that is hasn’t always been an easy road, but it would have been much harder without the guidance and support they’ve received from Can:Do 4Kids.
“She’s a brave little girl,” says Angela. “But I’d be lost without Can:Do. They really understand all the issues we’re facing – they know where your child is at now, and they know what’s coming up and can help you plan for it.”
Christmas presents its own unique challenges for them, because much of the world just hasn’t been designed with a child with vision impairments in mind. This year, however, they’re solving this by having Christmas at their house. Because of her limited vision, Zara’s other senses are all heightened and, says Angela, her favourite thing about Christmas is the feel and sound of the wrapping paper as it rips.
Because of her heightened senses, Zara can get quite distressed when one is diminished; e.g. when she’s made to wear shoes.
“We can’t get shoes onto her without her absolutely freaking out,” says Angela. “Because we’re taking that sense away from her.”
Angela and Zara’s therapist Rachelle are helping her overcome this by getting Zara to associate shoes with activities she loves, like water play or dancing. Zara’s sister Layla is a great help in this area, because there’s nothing Zara loves more than dancing with her sister with the music turned right up.
Not all children living in darkness will get their Christmas wish. We need your help to ensure we can help families as early as possible on their journeys to give them the best opportunity to live a safe and independent life.