When Gina Walker’s son spoke his first words, she broke down and cried.
Not that the words, “Hello, Mom,” were so revolutionary; she cried because James was 16 and it was the first time in his life he was able to communicate, albeit through the mechanized voice of a computer.
James suffers from Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, or LGS, a rare form of epilepsy that causes his body to have multiple seizures every day.
LGS accounts for only two to five percent of childhood seizures, and these children don’t respond well to anti-epileptic drugs, and in the majority of cases are developmentally delayed.
James’s case of LGS is so severe he has never been able to walk or talk… until now.
With the help of eye-recognition software, he has about 60 words at his command. Gina is delighted with the transformation in her son. She notes that his sense of humor is beginning to come out, and the thought that he can now tell her if something is wrong gives her a sense of peace she didn’t have before.
The computer, called the Tobii Eye Gaze, cost a little more than $17,500 dollars, which was raised by members of James’s community. Insurance would not cover the cost because James was unable to complete the eligibility requirements, ironically, because of his disabilities.
Still, James is thriving like never before, and he and his mother are grateful to the community for their help in acquiring the computer.