Akiva and the Missing Glasses. A NeverEnding Story.

Now, where did I leave you?

It was early June when in the space of one week, 2 pairs of Akiva’s glasses went missing.

The story has continued in amazing, astonishing and mystifying ways.

BEFORE YOU READ ANY FURTHER, please don’t tell us to get him glasses with straps – been there, done that – or to get his glasses personalized – we have – or tell us he’s a candidate for LASIK surgery – right now it’s not on the table – or that he should have contacts – if you’d like the job of putting them in and removing them, but know he’s not a candidate.

HappyPic

Akiva and his glasses – previous pair

HOW IT ALL BEGAN: Two pairs of glasses gone in a week. One pair went missing at school. One pair went missing at Shalva.

DIFFERING REPORTS: What really happened and when the missing glasses were first noticed as gone.

STRANGE MOMENT: One month later, 1 pair reappeared only to go missing again a week later.

THIS WEEK: We swapped him into a cheaper $80 online spare. That pair was grabbed and broken by someone yesterday, at Shalva.

GLASSES COUNT: That’s 3 glasses in 6 weeks.

ALSO THIS WEEK: Ira put on his detective hat and went and chatted up the afterschool bus drivers. The bus and what happens on the bus, is of course, a black hole. One driver said, “sure I know Akiva wears glasses.” Ira inquired if he’s ever found a pair on the bus, and believe it or not, he went and fished up a pair saying who’s are these? Guess what, They’re Akiva’s but an older pair from who knows when. Can you imagine? The bus driver never once asked at school or Shalva, or the children and teens on his bus, if anyone recognized the glasses.

SAID BY STAFF: Now we know to check Akiva when he comes off the bus. That’s because we’ve never discussed this before? And what happens in September, that is if I’m not in jail by then, when you have complete staff turnover as you do each year?

SAID BY OTHER STAFF: These things happen.

The facts as we see them.

AKIVA’S FRAMES: Akiva has worn the same frame for some time as it’s easy to replace online and fits him reasonably well. And, they have his name on them. Ok, it’s in English but seriously. He does occasionally wear another style – yes, they have a strap and yes, that doesn’t matter.

AKIVA’S VISION: Akiva is -9, or 20/1000! He’s significantly nearsighted. Measuring his sight is done passively, but we’ve seen, as he grew accustomed to glasses, how much they help him see better. Yes, people with Down syndrome are often over-corrected but we see that he does need some kind of correction.

Akiva also has strabismus (he’s cross-eyed), and nystagmus (rapid eye-movement, now much better), and has had corrective surgery (as have all 3 of our children, as it runs in the family).

GLASSES COUNT: We estimate 17 pairs. Since 2006, when we moved to Israel, we’ve ordered glasses online, through a few local shops in Jerusalem (1x a year we get a Maccabi discount), and through our cousin the optometrist (good glasses too high a loss factor).

What’s next? Don’t know.

Milestones

From the pen of Sarah Williams, mother of Josh Williams. Thanks!

All parents are pleased when their child reaches certain milestones: the first staggering steps; the first word; the first day of school; graduation. Parents of special kids have additional milestones: the first time he cooks his own breakfast; the first time he takes the bus alone; the first time he advocates for himself.

The latter was our most recent milestone. Josh was born with what was described as ‘global neurological deficits” resulting from an in-utero stroke. He is blind in his left eye, low-vision in his right eye; he has had years of speech therapy, fine and gross motor therapy, and today has only a slight limp, and some stiffness on his left side. Like many children with physical disabilities, these have impacted learning, maturity rate and independence. It also colors self-perception. There is a profound shyness, an uncertainty of purpose, a wonder if one dares to reach for the stars. School is hard. Social interaction is
hard. Rejection engenders a fear of failure.

Out of the many wonderful, supportive people who have helped Josh on his journey, Miriam Avraham and Camp Shutaf stand out. Shutaf is an integrated camp for children with disabilities and without disabilities. Miriam recruited Josh as a junior camp counselor, and he bloomed. He took on responsibilities for food, for children, for other children’s’ safety. He had to deal with tantrums, taunting, and grow into the role of person-in-charge. It was hard. But this level of responsibility supervised by a core team of counselors and supervising adults, helped Josh grow in confidence and maturity.

After his graduation from high school, Josh was contacted by Hebrew University’s Learning Center for the Blind. They have a number of excellent programs including a mechina for blind and vision-impaired teens and young adults seeking to pass the Israeli college boards (the bagriot). Josh opted for a non-academic route to start, wanting to do National Service. Having worked in a hospital, he hoped to do his National Service in a medical setting but instead ended up working in the traffic division of the Police Department. Learning Center for the Blind arranged a 6-hour work day for its blind and vision impaired students. He loves it! It is a clerical support job, processing traffic tickets, but he likes the people he works with, and he likes his vision-impaired buddy who is also doing his national service there. But what he really likes is the feeling of adulthood. He likes getting up and getting to work on the bus by himself; preparing his own breakfast; packing his own lunch; spending his own money.

Then he was told that he could only do one year of National Service. While additional years are optional, most young men and women do at least two years of National Service. Josh wanted another year. In order to persuade the Learning Center staff that he was sincere, he went to his supervisors, asked them to write letters commending his work, gathered those letters, photocopied them, put them in a “nylon”, went to the meeting, and persuaded them that this was what he truly wanted. He had to be his own best advocate. In Hebrew.

He got another year in National Service at the police department. He passed his milestone. We couldn’t be more proud of him!