The right support from her early years onwards could have made a
vast difference to Sharon’s life. She shares her story
hen I was born, in 1958, I weighed
just 1kg (2.2lb) and was 47.5cm
(19ins) long. I was placed in an
incubator for three months, because I
was too small to survive on my own.
While in the incubator I was given
too much oxygen and developed a condition called
retrolental fibroplasia, which damaged my eyes and left me
with visual impairment. At 18 days old I developed
pneumonia, after being handled by a nurse who had a cold,
and was quickly christened as it was thought I would not
survive. I was later christened a second time.
When I was a year old my mum was approached by the
authorities who wanted her to enrol me into a Sunshine
Home for the blind. My mum refused, as she felt it was cruel
and didn't agree that a visually impaired child should stay
away from her parents and only come home at the end of
They wouldn’t accept me at an ordinary school, so at the
age of four, I went to a day nursery for visually impaired
children. I had good days and bad days like any other child. I
was mischievous and ran around playing with friends.
When I was five years old I had to go to boarding school –
firstly to one where I was only allowed to come home during
holidays, and then to another where I could come home at
weekends. Some of the kids were very mean and, because I
had a weak bladder, I was bullied and beaten up quite a lot.
I had a relatively normal childhood spending time playing
with my brother. However, I can remember one evening
wanting to watch Daktari – my brother was allowed to stay
up for an extra half an hour, but not me. My parents grabbed
hold of me, slapped me round the face and pulled my hair
really hard until I screamed in pain. I got to my room, lay on
my bed and cried my eyes out. My mum came in, grabbed me
and banged my head on the wall. I screamed so loud and
wanted to get out of the house. I also had cold water thrown
over me that night. Every time I said something out of line, I
was smacked by my parents.
Like most teenagers, I rebelled and did not want to take
my exams, but I came away with a handful of CSEs. At 13 I
began dating a guy called Ron but my parents pulled us
apart and I was forbidden to talk to boys. I joined the local
youth club and made friends, however I was unable to go
anywhere unless I was supervised. I began to play loud
22 | drinkanddrugsnews | October 2018
music to curb my anger.
At 16 I enrolled at an ordinary school – a grammar school
– and went on to take 'O' levels. I was a lot happier here, as I
was treated as a normal person. I went out with the girls
and was told off by the teachers.
As I grew older I realised that my brother had it easier
than me. He was allowed to stay on his own and be with his
friends while I was looked after by my gran, like a child,
which I hated. I didn’t feel I had my full freedom like a
normal teenager an