A four-year-old boy from Ireland who was born with vision problems was able to find a way to still enjoy the magic around a special Christmas tradition.
Conor Murphy from Banbridge, a town in Northern Ireland, was only eight weeks old when his mother noticed something different about his vision, but despite his disability, Conor was still provided a way to enjoy the happiness of receiving a letter from Santa.
He was able to enjoy the magical experience of reading his first letter from Santa.
At a very young age, Conor was diagnosed with foveal hypoplasia, an underdevelopment of part of the retina, and associated nystagmus, which affected how clearly he could see.
“I noticed his eyes sort of swaying from side to side. I wondered if maybe he was just trying to focus more on things but when I mentioned it to my health visitor she seemed concerned,” his mother, Jolene, said, according to Shropshire Star. She noticed that her son wasn’t tracking things in the normal way, and when she brought it up with his pediatrician, they recommended giving him a few tests.
At 10 weeks old, Conor underwent electrophysiology, which measured how well his eyes responded to light, and two weeks later he had an MRI scan. For his mother, she described the entire process as being “overwhelming” and stressful.
“Your whole world is shattered, the thought that there might be something ‘wrong’ with your perfect little baby,” she said. As the family approached Christmas this year, Jolene was overjoyed to be able to get Conor access to a Santa letter thanks to the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), who created a large print-accessible version of the letter.
The first thing on the four-year-old’s Christmas list was the Paw Patrol lookout tower, and his mother explained that this was the first year that he was finally able to understand Santa’s letter.
“Last year I sent off for a letter to Santa from a random website and when it came it was in a really scrolly text — I could hardly read it and I don’t have a vision impairment!” she recalled.
Conor’s family was able to undergo genetic testing which identified a possible link to albinism, but despite his disability, he managed to hit all of his important milestones.
“He walked at 13 months — and he has now started school. He has one-to-one help but we’re only a couple of months in, so are still figuring out what we can do to assist him — for example having a slant board to raise up his worksheets, using a darker pencil for contrast and making sure things are photocopied clearly,” she shared.
Jolene made sure to praise RNIB, who have been supporting her son since he was six months old, including putting together family get-togethers.
“I love hearing stories from other parents and RNIB staff about how children with visual impairment have gone on to lead full, happy, independent lives. That’s all anyone wants for their child,” Jolene gushed. “All children should be able to share the same excitement by making Christmas accessible.”
Every child deserves the magic of the holidays, no matter what. It’s a reminder of how something as simple as a letter from Santa can mean the world to a child who has never seen one before.
Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.