Hi! I’m Amber Bobnar. I began this site in 2006 when my son, Ivan, was only one year old. He had just been diagnosed with LCA, a rare retinal disorder, and we were desperately searching for support and answers. At the time I thought it might be a good idea to gather everything I found into one place. That is how WonderBaby.org was born.
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WonderBaby.org is dedicated to helping parents of young children with visual impairments as well as children with multiple disabilities. Here you’ll find a database of articles written by parents who want to share with others what they’ve learned about playing with and teaching a blind child, as well as links to meaningful resources and ways to connect with other families.
WonderBaby.org has won:
- the Parent’s Choice Foundation Seal of Approval,
- a Family Choice Award and
- the PR Daily Social Media Award for Non Profits.
As the founder of WonderBaby.org, I have also received:
- the Heroes Among Us Award from the Boston Celtics
- the Federation for Children with Special Needs Community Partnership Award for Parent Advocacy
- the National Braille Press Volunteer Award and
- the Marilyn Micco Parent Recognition Award by the Watertown Special Education Parent Advisory Council.
My original intent for the site was just to link to resources I found on the web, but before I knew it I was writing more and more about Ivan and all he had to teach us! I soon learned that other parents were experiencing this too… we all know that our children are full of wonder and they amaze us every day. As we focus on teaching our children all they need to learn in order to be as independent as possible we are often surprised to find out that we are learning so much from them!
If you want to share your story or have any ideas or advice for other parents, we’d love to hear it! Please contact us!
Ivan Kapi’i Bobnar was born June 11th, 2005. Soon after birth, Ivan was having trouble breathing, and, after hooking him up to monitors, we discovered that his blood oxygen saturation was very low.
We spent the first week of Ivan’s life in the hospital, then we were sent home with monitors, oxygen canisters, and medication. The doctors were confused but assured us that he would grow out of these respiratory problems (which included apnea and reflux) as his system matured. We were very anxious but also very happy to have Ivan home.
His breathing problems did pass, but by the time he was 2 months old and not focusing on objects we were worried about his eyes. We were told to wait until he was 3 months old. He still wasn’t focusing and that’s when the crazy stream of doctors’ appointments began. Most of his doctors assumed Ivan had LCA (Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis, an inherited retinal disease causing blindness from birth), and that was confirmed with an ERG in July, 2006. (You can read more about our ERG and Ivan’s LCA diagnosis here.)
In the summer of 2008 we attended an LCA conference and felt that Ivan, then three years old, just wasn’t keeping up with his peers. So we began scheduling more doctors’ appointments and tests and by late 2008 Ivan was diagnosed with Joubert Syndrome along with the already diagnosed LCA. Joubert Syndrome is a neurological condition characterized by an underdeveloped cerebellar vermis and usually results in low muscle tone, poor motor planning and developmental delay. Ivan began seeing a geneticist at Children’s Hospital Boston and we soon discovered that he had a mutation on the CEP290 gene that is often associated with both LCA and JS.
But Ivan’s trials weren’t over. When he was about three and a half years old he began losing his speech and by the time he was four he was completely nonverbal. Ivan had gone from a boy who had over 100 words and was beginning to put two- and three-word sentences together to a boy with no language at all in about six months.
More doctors’ appointments led us to a diagnosis of refractory seizures, which at first were subclinical and hard to see. Of all the diagnoses Ivan has received, this one was the hardest to take. Epilepsy took Ivan’s speech away from him, along with much of his physical and cognitive skills. Seizures are nasty, nasty things.
In 2010 Ivan had his first sustained tonic-clonic seizure and we knew his epilepsy was getting worse. It was a frightening day, and we are still playing the medication game trying to find the right combination and dosage.
Through it all I’ve learned that regression is a bad word, but that it often comes hand in hand with disability and that we should appreciate everything we have now because life is fleeting. I’m also impressed every day with the grace and strength with which Ivan faces his challenges and I am determined to help Ivan be the best Ivan he can be!
I hope you enjoy the site! Your feedback is always welcomed!
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