Living with a Colour Blind Child
“Mommy, what colour is this? Is it orange?”
Daniel was about 4 years old when he asked me. The question really caught me off guard. He already had learned his colours, and he was far too old to be asking me what colour something was.
Then it hit me.
Daniel was probably colour blind.
Because my dad and his brother are colour blind, I always had it in my mind that Daniel might be.
Colour blindness, or colour vision deficiency, is the inability or decreased ability to see colour, or perceive color differences, under normal lighting conditions. Colour blindness is actually quite common.
Here’s a great explanation of colour blindness.
Biologically, How it Works:
Red/green colour blindness is passed from mother to son on the 23rd chromosome, which is known as the sex chromosome because it also determines sex. If you are colour blind it means the instructions for the development of your cone cells are faulty and the cone cells might be missing, or less sensitive to light or it may be that the pathway from your cone cells to your brain has not developed correctly.
If a woman has only one colour blind gene she is known as a ‘carrier’ but she won’t be colour blind. When she has a child she will give one of her X chromosomes to the child. If she gives the X chromosome with the faulty gene to her son he will be colour blind, but if he receives the ‘good’ chromosome he won’t be colour blind.
A colour blind boy can’t receive a colour blind gene from his father, even if his father is colour blind, because his father can only pass an X chromosome to his daughters.
So, I guess you could say it’s my fault that Daniel is colour blind! Well, thanks to my father!
In the Real World
My dad actually didn’t know he was colour blind until he was in junior high school. He had a job as a tomato picker and got fired for picking all of the green tomatoes and not the red ones!
We got Daniel an appointment with the eye doctor who had him look at certain images to see if he could see the numbers in the pattern. Like this.
Can you see the numbers in the dots? If so, you are not colour blind!
Overall, Daniel being colour blind hasn’t been a big deal. We sometimes have to correct him when he is colouring a picture, but he knows enough to ask first – especially when it comes to reds, greens and oranges.
Daniel says he can easily see the primary colours, but has troubles with brown and orange. He says it really doesn’t bother him, as he can read the labels on the crayons. He’s pretty confident about it, and has no troubles asking or explaining to people about his colour blindness.
My dad used to have trouble with some of the traffic lights – knowing what was red and green! However, he recited a poem: Stop on Top! That is, until they started putting some of the traffic lights horizontal!
My dad often has trouble matching clothes. This is why his entire wardrobe is blue! He could easily see blue, and knew that everything would coordinate!
There are a few jobs that he won’t be able to do. Some areas of industry, transport services and the armed forces don’t allow for people with colour blindness for safety issues.
And who knows the funny stories that will result. When he gets older, he may have happen to him what happened to a friend of ours. This colour-blind friend bought a car with a pinstripe on it. His friends started making fun of him for having a pink stripe on his car. But, it was fine for him, as he didn’t see it as pink!
Do you have anyone in your family who is colour blind?