CategoryStory Case Study
- Youth Services
Like many first time parents, the first few months were a whirlwind as Tania and Allen adjusted to the massive change in their lives caring for three newborns. However, it wasn’t long before they began to notice that the eyes of one of the boys, Kyle, seemed to be almost constantly moving.
With your support, more young people like Kyle can live freely and independently.
Unfortunately, their fears were confirmed as Kyle was displaying signs of a condition called Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis – a rare genetic disease caused by both parents carrying the recessive gene, which causes severe vision impairment.
“We were heartbroken to think that Kyle could not see and felt helpless that there was nothing we could do to remedy the situation. It was devastating to think he would never get to experience even just the simplest pleasures in life, like watching the sun rise or set.”
Many of us fear losing our vision with age, but could you imagine being told your newborn baby would never be able to see the world?
That’s when Tania and Allen reached out to Guide Dogs Queensland and the support Kyle received changed the course of his life.
With the help of his instructors, Kyle was able to learn how to use a cane properly and receive the support he needed to stand on his own two feet. He had the opportunity to attend school holiday camps alongside other children with low or no vision to grow his skills and confidence. His family also received training to help them understand his daily challenges and how they could assist.
We know from experience that the first few years of life are crucial for a child with low or no vision to gain the skills they need to become confident and successful adults in the future.
“Having a child with a disability is a very lonely journey,” Tania said. “When we learned there was actually a whole organisation focused on helping people who are blind or vision impaired like Kyle, it was just an incredible feeling.
“Having the support and knowing we weren’t in it alone was worth nearly more than the actual tools and techniques the instructors taught Kyle.”
Over the years, Kyle continued to work with Guide Dogs, taking part in various programs and working one-on-one with instructors to build his skills and confidence. Being able to use a cane and learning more mobility techniques opened up his world and gave him the confidence to become an impressively independent young man.
Now 16, Kyle still works with his instructor Jess once or twice a month to enable him to continue developing essential skills to meet his evolving needs as he grows into adulthood. These days he’s able to share his own goals with us, and has Jess alongside him helping him to achieve them.
“Jess teaches me to do all kinds of things, like catch public transport and get around the shops that I go to with my friends. We talk about the goals that I’ve set for myself and then focus on trying to achieve them,” Kyle said.
Due to his low vision, Kyle misses out on a lot of things friends his age enjoy, like playing team sports and watching movies. Instead, he focuses on his passion for running, undergoing rigorous training and racing competitively at state and national levels, with the assistance of a sighted guide runner.
Kyle has to travel over one and a half hours up to six times a week to various training sessions. One of his most recent goals was working with Jess to learn the way, and now he is able to get there independently by catching the bus and walking the rest of the way.
As a mum, Tania’s main priority is that Kyle always has the support he needs to fulfil his potential and live his life to the fullest.
I couldn’t bear the thought of looking back one day and thinking, maybe there was more we could have done or something we could have done differently to give Kyle a better chance to be content and happy.
“We just want Kyle to reach his potential, in whatever he wants to do, and for him to be an independent adult that enjoys life as much as anyone else.
“It helps to know that we don’t have to do the journey alone, knowing there are wonderful people like Jess and the team at Guide Dogs Queensland who are supporting our family and walking alongside us the whole way.”
One of the most rewarding parts of our work is seeing young people like Kyle not just achieving their goals, but exceeding even their own expectations. Kyle is now an incredibly independent 16 year old because of the early intervention he received from Guide Dogs Queensland. His experience demonstrates what’s possible for a determined young person to achieve with the right support, despite having no vision.
This is something we want for many more kids, currently at that crucial age where they need support and intervention now, before they start falling behind in life. There are still many children and young people like Kyle right across Queensland who need our help, but we can’t do it without your support.