You may have read my post To My Son with Love, letting you know of my son’s internship at the University of Hong Kong this summer. Since then, just a few weeks ago, circumstances came together that created a unique opportunity for me to join Alex in Hong Kong where I was asked to speak on a symposium at the World Ophthalmology Congress last week!
The symposium was organized by the Glaucoma Foundation, which supports medical research and patient support and education. The purpose of the symposium was for patients to share their perspectives with the ophthalmologists. I was asked to speak on behalf of the “parents’ perspectives” of having a child with a visual impairment. I implored the doctors to recognize the significant role the parent plays in the management and treatment, that it should be a team effort between the physicians and the parents. I shared with the doctors about what parents go through emotionally and how parents benefit from connecting with other parents. That it is critical for parents to understand and be educated about the eye condition and the treatment methods.
The third main point was the importance of understanding the functional implications for a child with a visual impairment and that families need to be connected/referred to early intervention and other rehabilitation services available in their local area, state, and country. Of course I introduced the ophthalomologists to FamilyConnect!
After my presentation my son Alex ran up to me enthusiastically saying that he had run into Dr. Walton—his ophthalmologist who treated his infant eye cancer—out of the crowd of 12,000 ophthalmologists attending the conference! I can imagine Dr. Walton must have been surprised and proud to see Alex, now a 6’4″ young man and a medical research intern, whom he once treated as a young child and saved his life and some sight!