How One Dad Takes His Daughter's Eye Patch From Meh to Masterpiece

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Layla Grubb is an 18-month-old whose ordinary medical accessory has a remarkable twist. The toddler wears an eye patch for a small cataract in her left eye, so her dad, Geof Grubb, puts his artistic side to use and decorates her patch each day, he told the “Today” show.

Did we just become best friends? #carebearstare #goodluckbear #laylaspatches #eyepatch

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Layla wears a patch for two hours a day to strengthen her vision, her dad wrote on his Reddit account. She’s worn the patch since she was 10 months old, and her vision is developing well.

Grubb draws colorful cartoons, like Cookie Monster and Pokemon, and recognizes holidays like St. Patrick’s Day and Earth Day. While most patches get thrown out at the end of the day, Grubb archives Layla’s daily patch on his Instagram account, which has more than 7,000 followers.

We try to keep [the patch] part of her regular routine so it bothers her less,” Grubb told Mashable. “After all these months, most days she doesn’t even notice it.”

You can see the rest of Layla’s Patches here. Check out some of our favorites below:

Who you gonna call? #ghostbusters #girlpower #laylaspatches #eyepatch

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Happy Fathers' Day! #fathersday #laylaspatches #eyepatch

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Turtles are friends, not food #cannibal #squirt #findingnemo #laylaspatches #eyepatch

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This wee Wonder Woman @eyepowerkids #wonderwoman #dccomics #laylaspatches #eyepatch

A photo posted by @laylaspatches on

Getting her LEGO on! #lego #duplo #laylaspatches #eyepatch

A photo posted by @laylaspatches on

Blech! Dog germs! #snoopy #peanuts #charliebrown #laylaspatches #eyepatch

A photo posted by @laylaspatches on

Layla and Hobbes! #calvinandhobbes #hobbes #laylaspatches #eyepatch

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Happy Star Wars Day! #Maythe4thbewithyou #princessleia #padawan #laylaspatches #eyepatch

A photo posted by @laylaspatches on

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When People Ask if I Would Give My Daughter Sight

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When I think about all the things Madilyn is missing because she is blind, I often consider the bad sights. An animal killed on the side of the road. The worried expression on my face when the doctor said she needed a major skull surgery. The numerous harsh images flashing across the television screen. Perhaps it’s some sort of blessing to be sheltered from such horrific sights, especially as a child.

On the other hand, maybe she’s being cheated without all the visual information sighted people take in every waking minute — information which shapes our mind, memories, reflections on the past and plans for the future.

young girl standing in front of a pond

Either way, visual images are not in Madilyn’s mind. Instead, her memories seem to be full of mostly sound, speech and even musical notes. She can tell you the title, season and episode number of every “Sesame Street” on Netflix. She will remember the sound of your voice years from the day she met you. She can tell you the name of a song within seconds of hearing it, and what note the clank of the glass made as we said, “Cheers!” last New Year’s Eve.

Some people have asked me if I could give Madilyn sight today, would I do it? Many probably think it’s an easy answer. But as her mother, it would be extremely hard for me to say I want to change her. She was given to me without sight and without eyes. Everything she is today— funny, smart, sweet and loving — is because of everything she experienced from the day she was born, and even before.

To experience this world without sight is something most of us could never imagine. And because I didn’t make the decision, most of the time I don’t feel like it should be my choice, even if it was possible. I think that’s something she would need to decide for herself when she’s older. People may not understand, but I believe Madilyn might not want to be different than she is today, with the life she knows. Maybe she is perfectly happy without sight. She most certainly acts that way every day.

If I could take away the frustrations and pain she has endured through surgeries and doctors poking, I would do it in a New York second. But maybe even those experiences, although not pleasant, have helped shape her as well — it’s hard to say for sure. However, I do know that the person I am today, and the beautiful life I live, is because of her. And I thank God every single day. woman and her daughter in lifejackets on the lake

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When I Overheard My Boss Use This Word to Describe Me

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My first month selling theme park tickets at my current job was one well-earned. I made it through an extensive training, something many of my trainers didn’t think I could pull off given my limitations.

I’m a naturally fast learner and I absorb knowledge like a sponge. I wanted this job more than anything and I was able to pass my assessment with no problems. Although my already weak eyes were getting quite a workout, I was able to make do with a magnifier or in worse case scenarios, a borrowed camera lens from my boyfriend at the time.

All was going well until one day when an elderly guest in a mobility scooter paid me a visit looking to buy an annual pass. One thing was thrown at me towards the end of my transaction that somehow in all my training, I forgot about. How to refund a parking fee.

I apologized to the women whose parking I accidentally forgot to refund, because at that point I couldn’t do a refund. My booth mate that day was in the middle of taking care of someone else and was slowly telling me there was a way to fix it.

As I went to explain to the guest what happened, and that I was new to the job, a hurtful comment was made.

“Why are you even working here if you don’t know what you’re doing?”

“OK,” I thought. “I can handle that.”

Then she spouted at me, “Disabled people should never be in the workforce. You’re too blind to work here. Who was the quack that let you in to begin with?”

Between her yelling and my booth mate trying the best he could to help me in between juggling an already backed up line of people, my mind drew a blank and I just shut down at that point. I thought to myself, “Disabled people shouldn’t be in the workforce? And this is coming from a woman in a scooter?” Despite this, I was pulling off my best “Tour Guide Barbie” face.

My manager swung past to say hello as chaos ensued, and I tried to play it off like I was a capable “goodie goodie” who knew everything.

Miss Scooter saw my manager’s normal clothes and name tag and put two and two together as she whizzed behind my booth screaming her head off about me.

But my manager’s reaction was one that surprised me.

“Miss, I understand your frustration, but my team here are all capable of doing their jobs, including Manda. There is no need for my intervention. They’ll have this fixed in no time.”

She said, “capable.”

I was capable? Never in the history of me holding a job had that word ever come into play, let alone in my defense.

After we got our guest on her way, I melted into a sea of emotion. I excused myself from my position, not wanting to be seen or bothered, at which time I sat on the floor in the back of the booth just wanting to disappear.

It was then that my manager picked me up off the ground, gave me a hug and said, “You did an awesome job sweetie.”

A year later and I’m still working here, because people believed in me.

award ribbon from Disney World

At times of great doubt in the big crazy world that is my job, I look back at that day and what I have accomplished since then, despite what others think of me.

I can only hope the woman who came to my booth looks back at all that has happened and realizes a little bit of compassion and patience can go a long way. Especially with those who are trying to help make your vacation a good one.

Experience is something learned beyond a classroom, and this experience for me will last a lifetime.

The Mighty is asking the following: Describe a moment you were met with extreme negativity or adversity related to your disability and/or disease (or a loved one’s) and why you were proud of your response — or how you wish you could’ve responded. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our “Share Your Story” page for more about our submission guidelines.

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One Stranger Left Me With a Broken Cane, but Another Helped in the Best Way

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It was a beautiful, sunny Texas day in November. I admit I didn’t much notice that, though, because I was late to class. I was nearly finished with the first semester of my junior year at UNT, and I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I wasn’t known for being the relaxed type back then.

OK, Mel, I thought. You can do this. Instead of taking my usual, longer route to class, I decided to cut through center campus. Despite my efforts to draw inner peace from the misting fountains by the library mall, my shoulders were tense with the presence of what seemed to be nearly a quarter of our student body populating the area, with no reason to convene aside from the gorgeous weather.

A group of girls was headed my way. We were sharing a relatively narrow path, so there wasn’t much time for me to slink off to the side and let them through.

SNAP!

One of them tripped on my cane. Hard.

Neither she nor her friends checked to see if I was OK; they just apologized, still giggling, and skittered away.

I was slack-jawed and spellbound. I wanted to scream at them for abandoning me, but no words came. This was a rarity for me, since back then I was affectionately known amongst my friends for being the blind girl with sidewalk rage.

So much for getting to class. How was I even going to get home? I knew my way around flawlessly, but without the security of a functional cane, my steps were halted and completely devoid of confidence amidst this sea of people. Not to mention that there were two street crossings between points A and B. And what could be done about my cane? How long would it take me to get a new one? Why had it never occurred to me to have a backup on hand? Suddenly I’d gone from being completely independent to completely helpless. I wanted to despise that girl for being able to navigate the campus with what seemed to be the utmost ease. I wanted to despise her for lacking the decency to rectify what I knew had been an accident at first but, now that she’d left me to my own devices, was starting to feel more like an act of carelessness. This was a matter of survival, however, and although I was devastated, I knew I hadn’t the time for that way of thinking.

Picking up the pieces of my cane, and what little I could of my dignity, I made my way to the nearest wall, then sat with my back to it and my knees drawn protectively against my chest. In tears, I called a mentor with the disabilities office and left her a desperate voicemail asking if she could send someone to walk me home. As I pressed “End,” I heard someone approach me.

“Are you OK?” asked a female voice that, though soft, held its own over the ambient noise of the crowd.

“Someone tripped over my cane and broke it,” I sobbed, wondering if my words were even intelligible and hating how weak I sounded and felt. “I know where I am, but I don’t think I can get home safely.”

“Can I help you?” she offered, then added with some urgency, “And can I please give you a hug?”

I pocketed my cell, picked up the remains of my cane once more and stood, however shakily. Feeling more than a little embarrassed by the situation, I was glad to hide my face in her willing shoulder for a moment.

“I’m Cortni, by the way,” she said, smiling as we broke contact.

“I’m Mel,” I replied through a lump in my throat, wiping the tears from my cheeks and trying desperately to keep fresh ones at bay. “Thank you. I had no idea what to do.”

“Where do you live, Mel?”

“Maple. We’re not far, actually.”

“Not at all! I go to Wesley a lot, and it’s pretty much right next door.”

Cortni came to my side and offered her elbow, like she’d done it a thousand times, and together, we headed south toward my dorm, chatting all the way. I wasn’t sure why all this had happened, exactly, but my gratitude for the love and kindness of a stranger, now a friend, overrode my momentary self-pity. Cortni and I had little contact after that, but I’ll never forget what she did for me.

The Mighty is asking its readers the following: Describe the moment a stranger  or someone you don’t know very well — showed you or a loved one incredible love. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio.

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10 Mistakes That Hurt Blind People the Most

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There are many aspects of blindness that I wish were more universally understood: What we typically do and do not need help with, the fact that we’d much rather have people ask questions than say nothing at all and the reality that just because we do everyday things a bit differently, we aren’t performing magical, wondrous feats by any means.

But these problems can be solved fairly quickly once you become friends with a blind person, sit down to think seriously about them or do a Google search. So instead of sounding like every “How to Interact With a Blind Person” article ever, I’ve put together a list of the top 10 mistakes that even my friends and family sometimes make. Even though they don’t happen often, they are the kind of gaffes that tend to hurt or bother me the most when they do occur.

1. Don’t play games. Playing childhood games like “How many fingers am I holding up?” and “I’m going to pretend I’m not in the room with you” are not cute or funny.

2. No surprises. You may think it’s funny to run up behind your blind friend, playfully grab them and yell, “Boo!” But it will never, ever be funny to us. If you do this, you will probably either get punched or feel the pain of our cane introducing itself to your kneecaps.

3. Mess with my cane, and you shall regret it. Never take or move anyone’s mobility aid without asking. If you’d like to look at it, or even take it for a spin, by all means ask. I’ll most likely let you. But you’d better not run off with it or leave me stranded somewhere without it.

Also, if I don’t have my cane for whatever reason, it would be extra nice if you’d let me know you’re aware of this and are keeping an eye out.

blind woman hugging dog

4. I do not need an interior decorator. I know sometimes it’s an accident, but please don’t move my things without telling me. Especially if we’re at my house, and you move something then leave. Rearranging my stuff to fit feng shui principles could cost me a few hours.

5. Sighted does not equal superior. Sometimes sighted people like tell me how to dress and present myself in a condescending tone. I can’t see what I look like, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have my own sense of self, identity and image. If I want your advice, I’ll ask for it. But generally, I prefer compassion, not a list of “you coulds” and “you shoulds.”

6. Quit comparing. Blindness is just one trait. It doesn’t have any bearing on anything else about blind people as individuals. We come in all different flavors — like ice cream. We don’t like being compared to other blind people. “He could do this independently, why can’t you?” “He liked audiobooks, why don’t you?” “He wasn’t awkward, why are you?”

Perhaps worse is being held up alongside famous blind people like Helen Keller and Stevie Wonder. We can’t all be blind freaking superheroes and, more to the point, most of us don’t want to be blind freaking superheroes. Most of us are just normal people who happen to be blind.

7. Be a sensitive sighted guide. Unlike many blind people, I’m not particularly fussy about how I walk with sighted guides. If we’re close, warm-and-fuzzy pals, I’ll most likely link arms or hold hands with you. If we’re more formal acquaintances, I’ll do the traditional hand-on-elbow sighted guide. But here’s the bottom line: Don’t ever clench my wrist or hand in a vise-like grip and yank me around like I’m a 2-year-old. Don’t push and pull me by the shoulders, shove me from point-to-point with your hand on my back or fling your hands all over me in an attempt to show me where to go. Not acceptable.

8. Either ignore the blind flails or help. If you happen to notice me fumbling around looking for my drink or my napkin, see my cane get stuck in a crack in the sidewalk and slam me in the chest or watch as I get spectacularly lost and wander around in circles trying to get my bearings, please don’t make a big scene about it.

My blindness-related shortcomings aren’t fair game for dinnertime story hour, unless I make it plain that a healthy dose of teasing commentary is OK and won’t upset me. I’ll love you forever if you ignore these blind flails, or if you laugh them off with me and keep them between us. I’ll love you even more if you can see a blind flail coming and can help me avoid it in a discreet manner (this, of course, takes some practice.)

9. Don’t be dismissive. If I confide in you that something’s tough or scary for me because blindness adds an extra layer, please don’t discount my feelings by saying, “Everyone feels like that sometimes.” I appreciate that you’re trying to make me feel better and less alone, but this type of response can come across as flippant. It’s as if you’re thinking, “Don’t think you’re such a tragic, special, uniquely broken little snowflake just because you’re blind.” Do we all struggle? Of course. But blindness can indisputably make our struggles different. If I’m revealing blindness vulnerability, which I rarely will unless I trust you quite a lot, it will mean the world to feel listened to, understood and validated.

10. I do not exist to make you look awesome. Don’t make a big, braggy show of helping me, so you’ll look like a hero in front of the guy you have a crush on. Don’t talk about me patronizingly as if I’m Baby Einstein: “Look what Caitlin can do all by herself! Isn’t she so smart?” And don’t treat me like a trained seal: “Caitlin, show everyone how you Braille, use the computer and walk a straight line!” If you just ask me nicely, “Caitlin, would you mind showing us how you text?” I’ll be happy to do a demo nine times out of 10.

The Mighty is asking its readers the following: Describe a time you saw your disability, illness and/or disease through the eyes of someone else. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected]. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio.

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Watch 3 Blind Women Explain How They ‘See’ Beauty

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What does beauty mean to a person who can’t see?

That’s the question at the center of the commercial below. Dove asked three Swedish women who have lost their sight to describe beauty. The video is part of Dove’s international campaign called #ChooseBeauty.

It comes from within,” Naomi Allback, who has been blind for 15 years, says in the video below. “If you radiate warmth, humility and love, then you are beautiful to me.”

Watch the video below for more on how these women perceive beauty:

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