My blog is very much orientated around the topic of vision impairment, my experiences with it and how I deal with it in my day-to-day life. However, something I’ve never touched upon before is how my sight loss affects those around me but it’s something I’ve wanted to write about for a while. However, I didn’t feel as though it was right for me to talk about it from my own perspective so when my brother suggested this post idea to me, I couldn’t think of anything more appropriate.
I believe that disability doesn’t only affect the person living with it but also the people around them. I know that it can be challenging for my family at times but they’ve always provided me with the best support, something which I have never taken for granted. I’m lucky in the sense that my family have always been understanding of my vision impairment and I’m so grateful for all the support they give me.
My brother has always been understanding of my vision impairment, he is always wary of it and will give me help and support whenever I need it. However, I know that it must not have been easy for him to have to grow up with a sister who is visually impaired. I feel like he has had to mature a lot faster as he’s had to learn to guide me when we’re out and about as well as having to learn to understand disability from a young age.
My brother and I have always had a close relationship. We’ve trusted each other from a young age and although we’ve had our differences when growing up, as any other siblings would, we’ve always been the best of friends. I know that sounds cheesy but it’s so true and I think we’re lucky in that sense.
I often think about how my life would be different if I wasn’t visually impaired, something I talked about in this post but I’ve never thought about asking my family about their thoughts on the subject. So, this post is all about how my brother, Meilyr, feels about growing up with a visually impaired sister and how he thinks life would be different for both of us if I wasn’t living with sight loss.
Take it away Mei.
Elin was only six when she was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa so I was only three and a half meaning I didn’t have a clear understanding of Elin’s condition for the first few years. As I was so young, I don’t remember much about how I felt in terms of the condition but I don’t think I gained a full insight into the extent of how RP affected my sister’s life and how it would affect Elin in the future. But as I grew up, I started to gain a better understanding and started to learn how the condition affected her life.
I don’t think Elin’s sight loss affected her as much when she was younger and it definitely didn’t affect me as we still went out and about on the farm, we also went out riding our bikes during summer. However, there were a few exceptions and differences to how others would go about their bike rides as I had to ride in front of Elin and wear a florescent yellow jacket so she could see me better. This made it easier for her to follow me and know which way to go, let’s not mention the few crashes she had!
When we were younger, we obviously went out and about with our family therefore there wasn’t as much responsibility on me to look after Elin as our parents would guide her. But once I moved to secondary school, I gained a better understanding of Elin’s condition and it was at that point, I received sighted guide training. Although I was happy to have the training, it obviously wasn’t something that others my age had to do but I didn’t mind this as I knew that receiving this training would benefit both Els and I when we went out together.
I now frequently guide Elin when we go out, something I am completely confident when doing. I think a key factor in this is that we both trust each other.
An example of our confidence and trust would be when we visited Manchester recently to watch The Script at Manchester Arena. This was the furthest we’ve travelled independently together and it all went according to plan. Elin talked more about our experience in this post.
How things would be different
I think Els and I both agree that one of the main differences if she wasn’t visually impaired would be the fact that she could drive or at least have the opportunity to do so. I believe that this would change both our independence completely. Elin often talks about how she’d love if she could drive us both places and I definitely think that we’d both go out a lot more together if this was possible. However, I am now learning to drive and this will definitely help Els’ independence as I can take her places and we’ll be able to visit new places independently as brother and sister.
She now has to depend on our parents in order to go places as we live in quite a rural area which doesn’t have many frequent public transport links. She does however use public transport but it’s just unfortunate that it’s not always reliable as things such as train assistance isn’t always the most effective service.
Although she isn’t with her friends and family, Elin has always been quite a shy person but her confidence has grown a lot in the last couple of years. I do believe one factor to her lack of confidence has been her sight loss as she was bullied for it when she was younger. She also can’t see people when she walks into a room so evidently doesn’t know who’s there or who she can go up to and talk to. I think she would have a lot more confidence if she wasn’t visually impaired but as I said before, it is improving.
If Els wasn’t visually impaired, I think that she’d be able to do things such as help out on the farm a lot more. She did this when she was younger but as her vision deteriorates it’s increasingly difficult for her which is unfortunate as she used to really enjoy going out and giving a helping hand. She’ll definitely still give it a good go from time-to-time though.
I often talk about Elin’s vision impairment with my friends and fellow students as I want people to gain a better understanding of sight loss. A lot of people have never heard of the condition before and certainly don’t know what it means. Many people I’ve told seem to think that someone is either fully sighted or completely blind, they don’t understand that there is an in-between.
I receive a lot of questions about Elin’s condition once I tell people about her vision impairment. Many are curious as to what it means and as I said, a lot of questions arise, two of the most frequent being “Is her vision going worse?” and “Will she go completely blind in the future?”
I often notice that people talk to Els in a different way to how they’d talk to me, a lot of people often talk to her as if she’s a child and doesn’t understand what they mean but I can assure you that she does. She’s just like any other normal person and many people don’t realise that which I think can be really frustrating for her at times.
Elin’s attitude towards her disability
I think Elin copes with her condition very well, she is very positive, something I don’t think many people expect from someone living with a disability. I know it can be hard for her at times but living with sight loss has never let Els from striving to achieve her goals.
Although I do feel responsibility for Els when we’re out and about in terms of guiding her, I don’t see her as someone who is disabled, she’s just like any ordinary person and she’s a normal sister to me.
I wish people looked past Elin’s disability and saw her for the person that she is. She’s just like any other normal person (whatever normal is), the only difference is that she can’t see. People don’t realise that Els doesn’t need to be treated differently, she is just like any other person, she is kind and caring and a great sister.
(Back to Elin)
Aww, isn’t he lovely?
I’d like to thank Mei for taking the time to write this post for me, I can honestly say that it’s one of my favourite posts on my blog (credit to him for the idea again). He’s always been supportive of my vision impairment and I found it really interesting to know how he felt about it and what living with sight loss is like from his perspective.
I’m really grateful to him for being so understanding and for considering me as a normal sister. As Mei said, we have a lot of trust between us which I think is so important. And without sounding too cheesy, I couldn’t ask for a better brother.
Do you have a relative or a friend who is visually impaired or living with any other disability? I’d love to know what your perspective is on their condition and how you think it affects their life as well as yours.
Elin and Meilyr x