A Mother’s Journey: Raising Sons with Albinism
Patricia Williams, like many parents, delighted in capturing and sharing photos of her newborn son, Redd. However, when she began sharing his pictures with others, she was met with an unpleasant surprise.
A Surprising Diagnosis: Oculocutaneous Albinism Type One (OCA1)
In 2012, Patricia’s son, Redd, was born with white hair. But it wasn’t until he was two months old that she and her husband, Dale, noticed certain peculiarities about him. Redd’s eyes would move from side to side, a symptom commonly associated with albinism. Seeking answers, Dale turned to Google and discovered that their son displayed several markers of albinism, including pale skin, white hair, and tracking eyes.
Seeking an official diagnosis, the couple consulted optometrists and genetic specialists, who confirmed that Redd had Oculocutaneous Albinism Type One (OCA1). This condition affects approximately 1 in 17,000 individuals worldwide.
The Challenges of Albinism: Bullying and Memes
Redd’s unique appearance garnered attention from the moment he was born. People at the hospital were excited to see a baby with white hair and blue eyes. Patricia initially didn’t think much of it, considering that she, her husband, and their firstborn son, Gage, all had blonde hair.
However, as Redd’s hair became whiter and his eyes bluer, it became clear that his condition was lifelong. In February 2018, Patricia gave birth to their second son, Rockwell, who also had albinism.
The family faced challenges when Redd experienced bullying at school due to his appearance. Gage, his older brother, became protective of him. But the most shocking incident occurred when Redd’s newborn pictures were stolen and turned into cruel memes on social media.
Becoming Advocates for Albinism Awareness
Patricia and Dale initially tried to have the images removed but soon realized the futility of their efforts. Instead, they decided to advocate for raising awareness about albinism to combat bullying and misconceptions surrounding the condition.
The attention gained from the viral memes led Patricia to become a voice for albinism awareness. People reached out to her, curious about her son’s appearance, which made her realize the lack of knowledge about albinism beyond limited representation in movies.
A Journey of Growth and Acceptance
Redd underwent eye surgery to correct his strabismus and transitioned from a private school for blind children to a public one. The surgery proved to be a positive decision, as it greatly improved Redd’s condition. Instead of wearing an eye patch, which would have drawn unwanted attention, the surgery allowed Redd to blend in more seamlessly with his peers.
As Redd and Rockwell grew older, their friends became less focused on their “differences.” They understood that Redd required a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen for outdoor activities, but otherwise, he could do everything any other child could. Both boys thrived in their own ways.
A Bright Future Ahead
On April 28, 2023, Patricia delightedly shared a heartwarming clip of her son, Rockwell, participating in his school’s “Western Day” event. This time, the little boy received an abundance of love and appreciation on social media, with people showering him with compliments like “cute” and “adorable.”