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Natick family tickled pink by new rug to help legally blind boy

Two-year-old Finn is nearly blind. With the help of a new rug, he can now make out his toys and better make sense of his environment.

Zane Razzaq
The MetroWest Daily News
January 9, 2019

For 2-year-old Finn Carlson, the new pink rug in the living room was a call to action. The toddler made quick work of exploring, scooting, and crawling all over the new rug, bringing his toys down to play.

“He just went ballistic,” said mom Shannon Carlson. “It’s such a small thing but it’s made a huge difference.”

The new rug helps provide significant contrast for legally blind Finn. He and his twin brother Mack were born premature at 24 weeks. At three months, his family learned Finn had an eye cancer. Also with cerebral palsy, he is nearly blind due to the condition called bilateral retinoblastoma. Because of his health condition, the Carlsons moved from West Brookfield to an in-law apartment in Natick to be within 30 minutes of Boston Children’s Hospital.

Shannon Carlson said Finn could not distinguish his toys in the bright light of the new living room nor see the distance between the dark chairs and hardwood floor. As a result, he frequently fell or lost his balance while moving around the new home. A vision teacher suggested the new rug so he could better make out his environment.

The family received no income from the short sale of their previous home, so Shannon sought to buy the rug with money from the Fred Gaspari Fund through Advocates, the Framingham social services provider.

The fund provides up to $500 through grants to family caregivers with a family member with an intellectual or developmental disability. The family member must be living with the family or independent in their own home within the community. Grants are given for any need necessary to the care of the family member. Sandy Lashin-Curewitz, senior director of marketing and communications at Advocates, said the grant received more than 100 requests for help this year and fulfilled 37 requests.

“There’s a wide range of needs that people can apply for,” said Lashin-Curewitz. “It can be technology, a sensory item, even a weighted blanket.”

Shannon said the family will also get window blinds to block out the bright sunlight that filters into the house during the daytime. Buying the rug has been a tremendous help to the family.

“For strangers to award us this meant so much to us,” she said. “It’s hard when you want to give them everything you can and sometimes you can’t.”