It was sometime during the winter of 2002 when our 10-year-old son, Sam, started having trouble reading the digital clock on our kitchen stove.
I thought he was following in my myopic footsteps and booked an eye exam for him, expecting a prescription for glasses. I'd got my first pair at age 8, so I wasn't too concerned.
Strangely, his exam took quite a while, mainly because of a lengthy detour into what I recognized as colourblindness tests: instead of showing Sam a couple of test images and moving on, our optometrist took him through almost every page in the book.
She then closed the book, asked us to sit down, and gently told us that Sam was colourblind (like 8% of males, he has trouble with shades of red and green).
Sam was interested but didn't seem at all worried, and I tried to follow his lead. He was such a happy, active boy - how much difference could this really make to his life? But I wanted to know and understand for sure.
Looking back, there were clues:
- He had never enjoyed using crayons or felt pens, but would draw robots and spaceships with a pen or pencil for hours
- He was never interested in talking about colours
- He'd once picked up a purple hat (definitely purple) on the school playground, saying, "Look! A little pink hat!" At the time, I'd thought he was just being a boy, too uninterested in fashion to use precise colour names, but now it made sense.
After leaving the optometrist's office, our first stop was the library so I could find a book on colourblindness, but there was nothing.
The next day, I decided to fill that gap and wrote most of the text of Colourblind! For Kids.
In the years it took me to finish the book, it's gone through many iterations, but the basic story still reflects our experience on that winter day.
I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it reassures you that colourblindness is definitely not a barrier to a full life.