My guest today is author and life coach, Michelle Friedman. Welcome to OpEdNews, Michelle.
Joan Brunwasser: Your children's book, Close Your Eyes [Abbott Press, 2013], was recently published. Why did you write it?
Michelle Friedman: I wanted to demystify blindness and disability by portraying people with disabilities in a positive light since there are so few positive images in books, TV shows and movies of kids with disabilities.
I've presented to school age kids on blindness and talked with them about how I live my life and what I do - I explain how much I do and how little I can't do if I want to, even though I can't see. But I wanted to find a way to reach a larger number of kids than just the local schools where I usually make my presentations, and at younger ages, and a book can reach out much further than just one person can.
I also wanted the book to be a catalyst for conversations on differences in a kid-friendly way.
JB: Many of our readers are not familiar with you or your history and I think that it's an important component of this story. While you are now completely blind, you started life as a sighted child. Please tell us what happened.
MF: When I was five years old, I had the measles vaccine. They don't give that one any longer. The next morning, I woke up very sick with a high fever. About six months or so after that, at a routine eye doctor appointment for school, I was diagnosed with uveitis, an auto-immune disease of the eye. Shortly after that, I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, also an auto-immune disease which tends to go hand in hand with uveitis.