Stories

Linda

My parents had no idea I couldn’t see when I was born.

I also have two older sisters who can see. My brother died when he was 19 and I was 11 so I was the youngest of 4 children.

My mother said I was a happy baby and nothing too untoward was noticed until I was about 8 months old. Mum had left me at home asleep in my cot. I awoke and threw a cushion onto a small heater. Luckily mum came in time and smelt smoke. She quickly turned the heater off but it left my parents wondering how come I hadn’t seen the heater.

I was taken to an eye specialist and it was confirmed that I couldn’t see. Up to the age of 8 I could see enough to get myself around adequately.

I was sent to a local primary school at age 5 but after a year there, it was determined by the teacher I wasn’t seeing the writing on the black board well enough so I once again went to the eye specialist.

After the specialist once again confirmed my sight had deteriorate I was sent to Homai College a school for the blind.

Here along with other blind children I was taught braille and various other academic skills.

I wasn’t very happy at school as coming from a Croatian background, which was somewhat different from the other children and also my lack of hearing which developed later, I was often excluded from games and play time activities.

To compensate for this I had a wonderful home life and my family was wonderful to me. I would retreat to the library where we had a wonderful librarian, Anne Clarke who was also deafblind. Anne must have had a deep understanding of my needs. She was wonderful to me thus my love of reading was awakened and I still love reading to this very day.

When I was about 10 or 11 my hearing began to deteriorate but the teachers didn’t believe me and I suffered greatly due to their misunderstanding.

However I was eventually taken to an ear, throat and nose specialist and he confirmed that indeed I wasn’t being a naughty little girl but I did have a hearing loss. I was subsequently given hearing aids so life became a little easier but not by too much.

After completing Homai College I went to intermediate school for a year which is like year 7 here, I loved it as the teacher I had was very nice. I attended a Catholic girl’s school called Baradene. I was the only deafblind pupil in the whole school and was treated very well.

I didn’t really like admitting I couldn’t hear back then. I wanted to try and do everything the other girls did and hated being left out of anything.  The teacher’s, nuns and girls were wonderful and I made some lasting friends there.

As integration wasn’t very in vogue then it was hard getting my books so I completed the last years of my high school years at Manurewa High School which was closer to Homai and my books weren’t hard to get. I also had coaching after school.

On completing high school I went to a living skills program for a year where I learn basic cooking skills and household tasks.

I then began university in Auckland studying education English and Psychology.

In 1985 I came to live in Perth. It was very hard at first as I had to make new friends and learn my way around.

I began the University of WA in 1986 and graduated with a bachelor of psychology degree in 1990.

With the help of my family readers and friends I managed to battle my way through these 4 years and passed each year.

In 1990 I went to Croatia for a holiday with my parents and met many of my relatives I had heard so much about since childhood. I was thrilled to meet them all and they were wonderful to me.  On returning to Perth I began the long task of looking for work. I did a lot of voluntary work for a few years such as talking to school children, working with migrants and giving motivational talks to women who had been out of the workforce for some time.

In September of 1994 I finally gained employment with the Community Newspapers where I worked for 18 years, 2 days a week. I was made redundant at the end of last year as nowadays most people advertise on line.

In 1999 I had a cochlear implant inserted in my right side and it has helped me greatly.

I can hear well in quiet environments but when in crowds or if there is a lot of background noise I do not manage too well.

I am very outgoing and love people. I enjoy reading, going to the movies, swimming and emailing with people all over the world.

I never give up and am once again on the hunt for a job.

I want to wish you all well and my message is no matter what life brings us we need to approach each day with a smile and a positive attitude. We must always do our best.

I would like to thank all my family and friends for their wonderful support, encouragement, belief in me and love throughout my life. Without them I could not have achieved all that I have.

Thanks, bye from Linda.