Lighthouse Vision Patient Sets Sights on Triathlon

Julian of Oswego, IL, has the same interests of many other eight-year-old boys.  Among other things, he loves to swim, go bike-riding and run. In fact, he hopes to participate in a triathlon someday. The fact that he is visually impaired is not stopping him!

Julian is legally blind, due to having been born with a bilateral optic nerve hypoplasia. At six months he began receiving services through an early intervention program. He was referred to a Chicago Lighthouse vision specialist who provided therapy, counseling and other support through age three. Julian has also been a patient of Dr. Tracy Matchinski in The Lighthouse’s world-class low vision clinic for about five years now.

He has been able to utilize several key items from our Tools for Living Store, including a talking calculator, kitchen utensils that have braille inscriptions and large scale dots to help him more clearly identify such things as hand placement on keyboards.

“The Lighthouse has been great and I am grateful for the compassionate and comprehensive care that they have offered my son,” Julian’s mom, Nikita, stated. “Everyone works hard as a team to ensure that he is getting the best treatment available.”

She expresses confidence that Julian has a bright future. “He is intelligent and honest as well as curious and aware,” she observes, adding that her son has an engaging personality who makes new friends easily.

“In fact, at times I feel that I learn more from him than he has from me,” she laughs, noting that Julian’s ability to approach each task with a smile no matter the difficulty inspires and changes how she approaches things as well.

In addition, Nikita keeps busy raising another son, five-year-old Preston; her jobs as a CNA and therapy technologist; and studies to become a nurse.

Asked what advice she would give to other parents of a child with a disability, she responds with a smile.  “I would tell them it may be difficult at times but stay hopeful. Never be afraid to be an advocate for your child, to be involved and participate in your child’s growth and development, or to reach out for assistance when you need to. There are resources out there to help your child cope and even thrive with a disability. There are also resources for us as parents. Most of all, never underestimate children with special needs!”

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