With the right support, you can achieve anything

Elliott was 11-years-old when he started to notice his vision was changing; it wasn’t until after he turned 13 that he received the diagnosis about his health condition – he was diagnosed with Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD).

ALD is a genetic condition which can affect memory, motor skills and vision. Following this diagnosis, he didn’t know where to go to for help and felt very isolated and alone.

Elliott was a keen drama student but was worried the diagnosis would impact his ability to act. he said “What I was really passionate about was acting but felt I wouldn’t be able to do that now I was losing my vision.”

Elliott’s close family and friends reassured him he would still be able to achieve his goals and that he hadn’t changed.

It was during this period of his life that he started to be bullied at school. The bullying made him feel ‘different’ despite the reassurances of his family and friends.  Whilst attending school, his mobility began to suffer because of this condition. He was finding it difficult to use stairs safely. He was often targeted by other teenagers because of his condition.

“I was frightened and scared. It was affecting my everyday life and I became anxious.”

 Elliott spoke to his teachers about the bullying, but it continued. His mental health deteriorated, and he felt he had nowhere to turn to.

He was eventually moved to another mainstream school. It was here where he started to regain his confidence thanks to a new support system. He felt the school understood him and his vision impairment so much more.

Reflecting on his previous experiences, he said: “being in a new school with support emphasised the lack of support I had previously. I became angry and felt that my first school should have offered more help.’

Through Elliott’s experience with bullying, he began to think about how he could help others.

He said:“I don’t want other people in similar situations to feel alone with this.”

Elliott has since been asked to write about his experiences, and this has been shared with other vision impaired children and young people. He now helps others in his community who are experiencing bullying or are being targeted due to their vision impairment. He is able to provide listening ear and offers reassurance.

When asked about his advice to others in a similar situation, he said “you’re not alone, talking to others can really help”.

Elliott is now planning to set up an online support group to help other young people who are experiencing difficult times. He hopes this online group would be an opportunity to further share his experiences.

Elliott is now a firm believer that with the right support he can achieve anything.

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