In June 2021, Shandell and Robby Wedl of Fort Atkinson welcomed their fourth child, a boy they named Edison. He was a ray of sunshine on an otherwise cloudy day and rounded out their children to two girls and two boys.
After Edison passed all his newborn screenings, the Wedls took their son home to enjoy being a family of six. As they settled into their new routine, however, Shandell noticed that Edison’s eyes seemed different—different in both movement and size. Edison’s first check-up was scheduled for that Friday, so Shandell planned to bring it up with their pediatrician.
And that’s when life was flipped upside down.
At the appointment, Edison’s doctor sent the Wedls directly to Children’s Hospital in Madison where, for the next eight hours, Edison endured some grueling tests. And then the diagnosis came: bilateral microphthalmia.
Bilateral microphthalmia is a rare developmental disorder in which both eyes are abnormally small and not fully developed. The condition develops while the baby is in utero, and the outcome is often severe vision loss or blindness. In Edison’s case, he is blind.
“The first thing was just accepting that we would have this major unknown in our life,” shares Shandell. “It was a hard struggle to adjust to having a special needs child.”
The Wedls were connected with Vision Forward through the Birth to 3 program, and Tina Mekeel, one of our teachers of the visually impaired, did her first vision evaluation with Edison in their home when he was barely five weeks old. Tina coached Shandell and Robby on exposing their son to different sensory experiences and describing their surroundings to help him begin to build concepts.
In addition, to ensure that Edison could continue to progress, Tina visited Edison’s day care center and went over specialized learning strategies with his teacher, giving her guidance on how to help Edison within the classroom.
“Vision Forward has given us the confidence to help Edison, to know how to guide him,” states Robby. “We don’t want him to just survive. We want him to thrive.”
And thriving he is!
Edison is two years old now and developmentally on track. He is walking on his own and gaining new words every week. Like most two-year-olds, he loves to play and enjoys discovering the world alongside his siblings. And he loves going to the park!
“Edison is fully capable of doing everything that any of our other children can do,” asserts Shandell. “Without Vision Forward and all the other therapies and resources we have, Edison wouldn’t be thriving like he is today.”
Team Edison all the way!
Thank you for investing in Edison and others living with vision loss.
Together, with your support, we can positively change the present and future of people of all ages who are blind or visually impaired.