My special son, by Alison Oborn 

Kyle was diagnosed with Stargardt Disease in Grade 4. He had been prescribed glasses the previous year with little improvement.

We returned to the optician because Kyle was wasn’t seeing the board at school and it was suggested we see an ophthalmologist. That visit will stay with me forever. The news was devastating. We had to deal with something we had never heard of and the information on the Internet was terrifying.

Kyle with the help of his teachers, his friends and us worked hard at keeping up. He continued to play sport where he could. He rowed until Grade 10 and played in the school pipe band where he received full colours in Grade 11. Kyle went on to receive the school award for Endeavour in his matric year for hard work in the face of diversity.

After matric Kyle went on to study B COM Information Management at the University of Johannesburg. Phycad (department for disabled students) at UJ were helpful with assisting Kyle in navigating his way though university. Kyle spent 4 years at UJ and I know he enjoyed the social life at university- sometimes far too much! He was a normal student doing what he should be doing.

After graduating Kyle decided to apply to do his Masters Degree at Strathclyde University in Glasgow. I was terrified! This was my son who had always lived at home, who now wanted to go and live on the other side of the world, on his own, and he was partially sighted!. He was accepted but had to do a 6 months pre masters course. He moved into student halls where he had to cook his own meals, do his own washing and ironing. He took to the independent life without mom and dad like a duck to water. Suddenly he no longer needed to wash his jeans every time he wore them. He passed his pre masters with flying colours. He found himself a part time job at a hotel in town and has worked there while doing his masters.

Kyle graduated in November with masters’ degree in Information Management with Merit. I think his graduation was one of our proudest moments. My mind goes back to a new teacher at the school when Kyle started High school asking me if I was not doing my son a disservice insisting he stay at a mainstream school. No I don’t think I did.

RSA notes: Alison and Derek exemplify how to parent a special child in a way that gives them wings to fly.

Next Story: Ilse Hayes Carstens