Nothing much holds back Caden Johnson

He’s got a fast touch on typing

Nothing — not even his vision impairment — slows down six-year-old Caden Johnson of Red Deer.

Nothing — not even his vision impairment — slows down six-year-old Caden Johnson of Red Deer.

He leaps and bounds around the house with his eight-year-old brother Brady, builds tall Lego houses, floats and dunks his head without a moment’s hesitation in his swimming class and was the first of his family to get his cross-country skies on and hit the trails earlier this month.

“That was so much fun. I like the hills … I didn’t fall very much either and it was my first time ever,” gushed Caden, who was diagnosed with Leber’s congenital amaurosis when he was nine months old. The disorder is a genetic eye condition that affect the retinas, causing severe vision loss and light sensitivity.

Caden, who also said he loves tobogganing and summer camping and boating, was the only participant from Red Deer who took part in the Alberta Braille Challenge in Calgary last month.

It’s an annual academic competition sponsored by the Alberta Society for the Visually Impaired for students from kindergarten to Grade 12. They are assessed for their reading and writing of braille in five areas: proofreading, reading comprehension, spelling, charts and graphs, and speed and accuracy.

The youngest students may work in either contracted or uncontracted braille.

Challenges are held all over Canada and the United States and winners move on to a final competition in June in Los Angeles.

Caden, a Grade 1 Mountview Elementary student, was the youngest contestant this year.

“I might go back next year. It was fun,” he said.

“He’s really fast on his brailler, too,” said brother Brady, adding that Caden spent a lot of time practising when he first received the machine, a braille typewriter with a key for each of the six dots in the brailler code.

“So much so that his fingers were hurting,” said his father, Travis.

Caden was also the only one with a snazzy forest green brailler at the competition.

“It was awesome for him to meet other kids with vision impairments because he doesn’t really have that here in Red Deer,” said his mother, Tera. “He said to me, ‘Mom, I’m so glad I’m the only blind kid in my class because all those braillers were so loud.’ ”

Caden loves his brailler, despite the fact it does take longer to do school assignments, he said.

He has one at home and one at school, where he works closely with his eduction assistant, who is proficient in braille as well.

He uses it for spelling and math, and has a few braille books he borrows, some with textured, easy-to-feel pictures.

Caden started going to Aspire Special Needs Resource Centre in Red Deer when he was just over two years old. This was where he was first introduced to braille.

He worked with a child development facilitator for two years and Tera said that was the “key ingredient for starting his success.”

“He learned to recognize sounds and shapes and voices, and socializing with other kids.

It was also where he first got his mobility cane,” she said.

“Now he’s right on track with his peers in Grade 1.”

Today he works about once a month with a member from REACH in Calgary for more specialized braille education, as well as an orientation and mobility worker from the Canadian Institute for the Blind in Edmonton to learn about how to get around.

“What we thought was going to be a huge challenge in his elementary years has turned out to be not so bad and we’re just hoping that’s what continues in the future,” said Tera.

rfrancoeur@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

WATCH: Red Deer’s noxious weeds are a goat’s dietary delight

Piper Creek Community Garden gets chemical-free weed control

Get your guilty pleasures: Westerner Days food

Traditional sugary treats were served up by the plate, bowl and bucket… Continue reading

Centrefest brings feats of daring to Red Deer’s downtown

Fundraising was a tough slog, but it came together in the end

Count shows slight decrease in Red Deer’s homeless

In two years, the number of homeless in Red Deer has decreased… Continue reading

Redoing hip surgeries are costly, says new study

Redoing hip and knee replacements costs Canada’s health system $130 million a… Continue reading

WATCH: Cirque ZUMA ZUMA puts on a show at Westerner Days

ZUMA ZUMA performs three times a day during Westerner Days

Zuckerberg’s Holocaust comment puts Facebook on the spot

NEW YORK — Denying the Holocaust happened is probably OK on Facebook.… Continue reading

Brazilian police arrest ‘Dr. Bumbum’ after patient dies

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian police have arrested celebrated plastic surgeon Denis… Continue reading

Canadian marijuana company Tilray has first US pot IPO

SEATTLE — A Canadian company is the first marijuana business to complete… Continue reading

Dolphins anthem punishment includes suspensions

Miami Dolphins players who protest on the field during the national anthem… Continue reading

Soy “milk” makers may need to find alternative description

NEW YORK — Soy and almond drinks that bill themselves as “milk”… Continue reading

Calgary woman convicted in son’s strep death granted day parole

CALGARY — A woman whose son died after she failed to take… Continue reading

Greenpeace members arrested for climbing Olympic Stadium tower in Montreal

MONTREAL — Several Greenpeace members climbed the outside of the Olympic Stadium… Continue reading

B.C.’s Site C dam project behind schedule, plagued by problems: expert

British Columbia’s mammoth Site C hydro-electric project is seriously behind schedule, plagued… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month