Growing Up with a Visually Impaired Sibling

In this blog, Ruqqaiya talks about having a visually impaired sibling, and the positive impact this has had on her.
Ruqqaiya’s brother, Zayed, is totally blind and has been supported by Henshaws’s Children and Young People’s service for a number of years, and he still accesses the service today.

In July 2022, Ruqqaiya completed a week-long work experience placement at Henshaws.

Zayed stood, smiling to camera, with a long cane in his right hand, and a VIP Henfest pass in his left hand

Ruqqaiya’s Story

I have a visually impaired brother called Zayed.

When I was two years old, the time had occurred that my new little brother was going to be born and after that he would soon be coming home. This meant that I could finally be the big sister that my mum told me about and I was for sure ready to commit to my role and do my best.

When Zayed did come home, his eyes were closed, but it did not matter to me because it made no difference to my role.

It was not until my mother had informed me that he was in fact born with no eyes that it started to matter to me, because now the job of being a big sister just got much more complicated. No one knew what our future held, and I am sure my parents were scared for what we had in store, but for me, things changed as my view of the world shifted.

When we were younger, my brother had moved to my primary school after being in another school from me. He was moving to a mainstream school, and this meant he was going to a school with non-disabled children. I was scared for him at this point because as his big sister I had to make sure he was settling in well and I was the one that had to protect him if there were bullies.

I knew that there could have been a possibility that the other kids would have treated him differently because unfortunately many people mock disabled people. If my brother were to have experienced that, some part of me would have felt the pain as well.

However, I was wrong, there were no bullies and my brother had become well-known for how funny he was.

Over the years I have watched my brother go in and out of hospitals where he would get fitted for new prosthetic eyes. I have watched him go in and out of Henshaws where even my childhood memories were made and created. I have even watched him do numerous activities from rock-climbing to drumming to even singing in a band from the help of numerous organizations.

Ruqqaiya and Zayed walking side by side in the sunshine, deep in conversation. Zayed is holding onto Ruqqaiya's left forearm with his right hand (sighted guide), and a long cane in his left hand.

Obviously, this is not what every other child sees when growing up, but it has given me a unique perspective on the world. I see that anyone can do anything and if you really wanted something you can achieve it.

The reason I have this perspective is because I have watched my little brother become independent and resilient in everything that he does, and I have seen how he continues to blossom into an amazing person who shall thrive in today’s world.

I feel lucky to have watched him do all these things and even though I would never tell him… I am immensely proud of him and what he has achieved. I would not ever change the way that we have grown up because we both have had the experiences of a lifetime and I would not be who I am without my brother.

It can get hard having a visually impaired sibling, and whilst it may seem like everyone is focused on what your sibling has been through, you should remember that you too have been through a lot.

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