Not seeing is
The story of T.J.
Express Staff Writer
Squires is your typical teenager.
to hang out with his friends, mix it up with his older brother Brian,
play video games, ride bikes, and watch his team Ė the Dallas Cowboys
played guard on the freshmen football team this season, and will suit up
for the wrestling team this winter.
a little bit last winter and this year wants to learn how to snowboard.
Squires is a freshman at Wood River High School. Express photo by
makes all this ordinary stuff so extraordinary is T.J. Squires does all
these things without the benefit of sight.
since birth because of an underdeveloped optic nerve (termed optic nerve
hypoplasia), T.J. has made his way in the world with four of the five
senses, but perhaps twice the heart.
gregarious, amiable and very curious, and contrary to some
misperceptions people may have about blind people Ė very smart.
like to investigate things. I want to know what, where, why and
how." T.J. said.
think of myself as not sighted, he added.
means sometimes I need extra help. Some people are kind of creeped out.
They donít know how to react."
takes it all in stride and with a very healthy sense of humor.
have a T-shirt, which says, Ďplease feel free to point, stare and ask
questionsí," he said. "People do anyway."
people want to know is what it is like not to be able to see. What does
he imagine the world looks like?
am sure how I imagine a tree is not what it actually looks like. Itís
hard to describe. If I had a choice to get my sight back I donít think
I would take it. I donít think my pictures would match," T.J.
lives in Hailey with his parents Michelle and Martin. His 19-year old
brother Brian is a freshman at Jamestown in North Dakota.
remarked on raising two boys Ė sighted and not.
is no difference," she said.
follow the same rules. With T.J. you have to explain things better. He
is a little more sensitive. With Brian you can be more blunt."í
navigates the world with a metal cane with a sphere at the end. The
aluminum cane collapses and folds up like a tent pole.
weeks before school started he had a few orientations to familiarize
himself with the campus. His textbooks are in Braille and his home
computer is outfitted with a program called Jaws, which reads aloud to
him. He said he pulls down mostly Aís and Bís and math and science
are his favorite subjects.
Ambrosi, a football coach and math teacher at Wood River High School
remarked, "I have T.J. in the classroom for math and his ability to
visualize a problem is amazing. He is a great student and gets along
great with his peers."
buddies talked him into playing football this fall, which he said was
"as fun as I thought it would be." Heís going to go out for
the squad next year, too.
expected it to be more difficult, but all it was was communication
between my teammates and me."
Ambrosi described the process of teaching T.J. the sport.
his wrestling skills he knew how to get in a hitting position and we
taught him to use his head in case he got hit. In the latter part of the
season we were able to get him into drills and two games.
is an unbelievable kid and an inspiration to everyone," he added.
his newfound interest in football, wrestling has been T.J.ís main
sport since he was six years old and living in Idaho Falls.
his weight division in the Middle School conference championships last
year and was third the year before.
difference a wrestler faces when going up against T.J. is they must
maintain contact with him at all times.
goals not only for this season, but his high school career are well
want to qualify for state this year and win state by four years,"
be blind, but he sees the world more clearly than many of us.
have to follow your instincts. Follow what you think. Donít follow
what your friends say. But if you do, make sure you want to do it. Make
your own choices and use your common sense."