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Moles Can’t Play Hide and Seek

calendarMarch 2 2020

Astrid Middleton describes her journey with retinitis pigmentosa and neurodiversity, and what led her to write inclusive children’s stories.

Retinitis Pigmentosa & Neurodiversity

From the age of four I knew that I was different; I was diagnosed with a rare, genetic eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa, that I knew would one day take most of my useful vision away. Fast forward 22 years and that day arrived; the day when the consultant gave up and handed me my blind certificate.

Fast forward another 10 years to the start of a different journey; a journey to discover what really made me stand out from the crowd. Not only am I visually impaired, for want of a better phrase, but I also identify as Neurodiverse. There is no diagnosis, nor label; I am just me. I know that I think differently and view the world from a unique perspective and for this I am truly thankful.

What I am not thankful for is the way children and young people are so often wrongly treated due to their unique differences.

My eldest son is ADHD; this has caused him no end of trauma and anxiety. Does he hate ADHD? No, he owns his ADHD; he hates the anxiety caused by other people’s misconceptions and stereotypical views. ADHD has shaped him into the quick witted, kind-hearted, caring young man that he is today. Rising above the stigma, breaking down those barriers and challenging those stereotypes are what drives our family.

I love writing

Despite the obvious barriers, I love writing and I use writing as both a therapy and a platform from which to share my passion. I believe that the unique differences that go into making us individual humans are the exact things that we should be celebrating. Differences are not there to be fixed; they are there to be embraced.

There should be much more space given for celebrating difference; children need to feel safe in order to be themselves and embrace all of their uniqueness. We, as adults and writers, need to model this. Yes, disability brings along challenges, but where there is disability there is always ability.

Here is one of my stories, I hope you enjoy it:

Moles Can’t Play Hide and Seek!

“Who are you looking for Minnie?” asked Lexus the Labrador.

“Cooper is hiding,” Minnie replied. “But it’s just no fun anymore”.

“I will help you find him,” said Lexus kindly. “Just follow me”.

“You are a cheater Minnie!” shouted Cooper. “You know that I always win!”

“Next time you need to find me, without the help of him”.

“Who are you looking for Minnie?” asked Subie.” the Spider.

“Cooper is hiding,” Minnie replied. “And he is an expert hider”.

“I will help you find him,” said Subie. “Just follow me”.

“But, Cooper says that moles are no good at Hide and Seek,” Minnie sniffled. “Because we cannot see”.

“I will use my legs to find him,” said Subie. “We can follow this trail of cat hair”.

Sure enough, there was Cooper, swinging on the tail of Maxi the Mare.

“You are a cheater Minnie!” shouted Cooper. “You know that I always win!”

“Next time you need to find me, without the help of him”.

“Who are you looking for Minnie?” asked Austin the Anteater.

“Cooper is hiding,” Minnie replied. “And he said that I am a cheater”.

“I will help you find him,” said Austin. “Just follow me”.

“But, Cooper says that moles are no good at Hide and Seek,” Minnie sniffled. “Because we cannot see”.

“I will use my tongue to find him,” said Austin. “We can follow this trail of fish”.

Sure enough, there was Cooper, munching Tuna from Farmer Ford’s dish.

“You are a cheater Minnie!” shouted Cooper. “You know that I always win!”

“Next time you need to find me, without the help of him”.

“I am going to look for Cooper,” Minnie announced. “I will show that mean and spiteful cat”.

“My eyes might not be as sharp as his, but I have ears like a bat!”

Minnie stopped for a minute and wiped away her tears.

“Moles are good at Hide and Seek,” Minnie smiled. “Because we can use our ears”.

Minnie could hear Cooper giggling, he thought he had won again.

Sure enough, there was Cooper, causing mayhem in the Chicken pen.

“You are a…,” Cooper froze in surprise.

“You can’t have found me on your own, because moles don’t have good eyes”.

Minnie waited for a minute, whilst her friends gathered around.

“We all have five senses Cooper,” Minnie explained. “Sight, smell, taste, touch and sound”.

“Lexus used his sense of smell; Subie used his touch.

“Austin used his sense of taste and my hearing helped me very much.

So, you see Cooper, even if we have one sense that is not as sharp as the rest, we just need to use the others and find out which one works the best”.

About Astrid Middleton

First and foremost, I am a wife, and mum to our two amazing boys. When I am not doing all the things that mums do, I will be writing. Having retinitis pigmentosa and being neurodiverse has its challenges, but I prefer to focus on the positives and use the talent that God gave me. I am a published poet, but my dream is to write books for children; in particular, stories that celebrate difference and champion Neurodiversity.

image of Astrid, smiling

For more information about retinitis pigmentosa visit: https://retinauk.org.uk/ or https://www.fightingblindness.org/diseases/retinitis-pigmentosa

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