A few weeks ago I listened to Mia Freedman’s ‘No Filter’ Podcast episode about a family who is going through a really tough time. Ben Heuston and his sister Penny reached out to Mia to share their story about Ruby, Ben’s 9 year old daughter who had a brain haemorrhage caused by a rare form of Leukaemia. The brain haemorrhage left her blind and she had to learn to walk and talk again. This story deeply affected me. Not only from a parent’s perspective, but also, like myself the way it happened. No warning. The affect of a sudden blow on everyone involved is huge, both mentally and physically. Support is important for you to get through the tough times. I feel like that even though I do not know the family, I relate to them through my experience.
I won’t go into the story, because I respect the privacy of the family and the fact that Ruby is still a child. If you would like to read more about Ruby’s story, you can view the original on Mamamia. You can also click on the link to Mia Freedman’s ‘No Filter’ Podcast here. The family is raising funds to allow Ruby to have a full time carer to help enable a speedier recovery. She has many physio, Occupational Therapy and other medical appointments to attend and having a full time carer to take her to the appointments and facilitate rehab is vital, so she can lead an independent life. If enough funds are raised, the family would like to put funds towards a program called Echolocation, you can read more about the program below. If you would like to donate, you can click on this link ‘Rise for Ruby Rose’.
What is Echolocation?
Echolocation or Flash Sonar is a technique developed by Daniel Kish as a way of orienting and navigating surroundings. Blind from a baby caused by retinal tumours, Daniel developed a bat like clicking sound and listened for the echoes to determine where he was in his surroundings. The sonars build images of surroundings for the blind to make navigating easier. Daniel now travels all over the world teaching this technique as an orientation and mobility specialist. What is amazing is that he rides a bike and treks alone using Flash Sonar. You can see Daniel in action here. You can also listen to Vision Australia’s Talking Vision Podcast to listen further about how Daniel navigates the world and how he developed the technique.
Echolocation could be a fantastic skill for blind people to learn. It tends to work better for those with very little or no vision. A few months after I became legally blind, I attended a workshop at Vision Australia to learn more about Echolocation. The way you click is like sucking peanut butter off the roof of your mouth. Towards the end of the workshop, I did begin to understand the concept and hear the the echoes from how far a way from a wall I was and whether I was under a roof or not. I did struggle though because I have enough functional vision to know what large obstacles are around me. It is definitely a skill to learn if I lose any more vision. I can understand how the technique could be liberating for those with very little to no vision.
I wish Ruby and her family all the best with her road to independence. From what I have heard, she sounds like and extremely talented, strong and determined individual. I am sure with the support around her she will lead an independent, happy and fulfilling life and have a successful future.