Born fully sighted and able to hear, Myat lost his vision at 5 and hearing at 7, the result of a gene mutation so rare he’s the only person known to have it.
At the time, his parents felt overwhelmed, as no one in the family had the tools to deal with what was going on. “He was confused and exhausted,” recalls his mother, Kara.
Then in 2017, Myat enrolled in Perkins School for the Blind’s Deafblind Program. He immediately began to thrive as a student. And three years later, the learning continues.
“Perkins doesn’t give up and therefore he doesn’t either,” adds Kara.
Like Helen Keller, Perkins’ most famous deafblind student, one of the biggest barriers Myat had to initially overcome was the one surrounding communication.
Since Myat, now 14, had hearing up until age 7, he’d spent years communicating verbally.
That meant teachers at Perkins had to help him learn to communicate using sign language. They also had to show him techniques for dealing with frustration when communication as he’d always known it became difficult.
“Myat was highly frustrated with his limited communication skills for many years,” says Kara. “His teachers have effectively and gently given him tools to express himself. He’s so much more calm and has a much broader ability to talk about and express his feelings."
More recently, his teachers have also been working with him to adjust to a cochlear implant, which will help him regain some of his hearing and give him even more ways to communicate with the world.
A class takes place over Zoom.
And none of the important work has changed in more recent days either. It’s just shifted remotely, with lessons taking place over Zoom, a video conferencing app. Indeed, while class isn’t the same these days, the learning has continued for Myat, which his parents appreciate now more than ever.
"You and the Perkins team are an inspiration,” writes Scott, Myat’s father. “Keep up the amazing work."