A Shropshire mum has shared her story in a bid to help other families affected by childhood sight loss.
“If it wasn’t for all the support that we’ve received we might still be in a very deep and dark place,” says mum Sharn, who lives near Ludlow.
She says the day she received the diagnosis about her daughter Maya’s condition was the worst day of her life.
“‘Your daughter is blind’ were four words that changed my life forever. I heard them when Maya was just nine weeks old – it felt like someone had crushed me.”
“I woke up as one person and went to bed as another.”
But Sharn says two-year-old Maya and her family can face the future with hope and optimism because of the support of the Royal Society for Blind Children (RSBC).
The charity’s Families First service has provided emotional and practical support since Sharn met their local Family Practitioner in a hospital waiting room, just days after she found out Maya couldn’t see.
“Our Family Practitioner told me: ‘if you ever need somebody to talk to, we’re here for you’,” explains Sharn.
“Since then, they’ve provided a safe space where I can explore my feelings. She suggests play ideas and resources, and signposts me to useful services.”
“She’s shown me that there are no limits for Maya – just adaptations that can help her to achieve all the usual milestones any child would expect to achieve.”
“I hope she’ll believe in herself enough to make her own choices, have a career and maybe one day have a family of her own. I hope she’ll show the world just how much you can achieve when you’re blind.”
It has also helped Sharn appreciate the beauty of the Shropshire countryside: “I used to get up in the morning and open my curtains and look out on our view and not think a thing of it.
“Now I appreciate what I see because not everybody can see it. But I never really thought of things like that before and learning things in a different way.
“Now I appreciate the textures of things; I never would have before.
Now I’ll take Maya outside and let her play in the leaves and let her feel the leaves and things like that.
“I don’t talk so much about the visual side of things now, it’s more: can you hear the crunching, can you feel how they’re wet, or they’re dry or they’re crunchy. She’s just changed my outlook on life.”
It’s all meant so much to Sharn and Maya that they’re telling their story in the RSBC Christmas Appeal to help the charity raise money and spread the word, so other families receive the same much-needed support.
“I know that every blind child and their family deserves someone at their side to navigate what can be some really painful and challenging times,” says Sharn.
“RSBC has provided us with a newfound vision for the future – a realisation that, although there will be hurdles, we can overcome them.”
“Without RSBC, we wouldn’t be as stable as a family or looking ahead to a bright and exciting future.”
“Now I watch Maya every single day in complete and utter wonder. She is incredible and I truly have to pinch myself that she’s mine.”
To find out more about RSBC’s life changing work please visit their website at www.rsbc.org.uk.
If you would like to help more families like Maya’s to get the support of an RSBC Family Practitioner, you can donate to the charity’s Christmas Appeal at www.rsbc.org.uk/donate