The following is my best memory of how it was for me as a blind infant:
This story starts in bed. You have to imagine me lying curled up at night time with the sheets tight about my neck and my left finger pressed into my left eye.
By pressing and moving this finger, I could bring to life colours and shapes like a kind of fireworks display. Oranges and reds and all movable at my finger’s command. I could also switch off the fireworks by pressing hard until all went black. Scary but the fireworks soon came back after a few seconds.
When the light was on in my bedroom, I could lie back and make the light dance by moving my head from side to side and that’s about all I could see in the room so it was worth making the effort to affect a fireworks display or a dancing light. Obviously, being a baby, I was just amusing myself and there was no realisation that I was odd or even in danger of damaging a precious eye. The behaviour was rewarding and must have soon become a private habit which lingered beyond babyhood.
Jump forward a couple of years and my world is very different. §Still almost nothing to see but my head is filled with a huge array of colours, sparks and patterns. Every word, every name, every idea…they all seem to have their individual colour and each colour pops into my head on queue. Mum is dark brown and Dad is red with a tinge of orange. Bob is brown but lighter and slightly reddish. Monday is dark gold while Sunday is bright and shining gold. Friday is pink and Saturday black and silver. Love is grey with a hint of blue and I, Roger, am cream. Even numbers have their colour and I have no idea that all this might be unusual. It was as if my busy visual brain parts were making hay differently with the absence of useful eye input.
I can’t remember not having a map of my home in my head and it’s still there today nearly 80 years on. I can conjure up the creek on the third step; the precise position of the table near the window in the back room and the fender round the fire. I did not need to see them to avoid danger. I recall going down to the air raid shelter in the garden, two steps down, the smell of damp and the biscuit tin right ready for my hand to find.
There was a routine to our morning awakenings. The smell of fried bacon downstairs and the pitter-patter of our Judy dog coming up to see the three of us. It was dark but we had torches and used to shine them on the ceiling making frightening shapes with our hands. We and our parents knew even then how to stimulate weak vision in young children.Without such or similar stimulation, there is a visual price to pay throughout life and this knowledge was invaluable to me later when I worked as an Education Adviser with sight loss children and their families.