Leeds mum’s plea to help her daughter ‘speak’ via computer

Kellly Law with her daughter Maddie. PIC: James Hardisty
Kellly Law with her daughter Maddie. PIC: James Hardisty
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A MUM says it would be a “dream come true” if her disabled daughter could communicate for the first time – using a computer controlled by her eyes.

Maddie Laws has Rett syndrome and is unable to walk, feed herself or talk.

The six-year-old cannot communicate, but a specialist computer could give her that ability.

Now her mum Kelly has arranged for Maddie to help young cancer patients and raise money for equipment which could change her life.

Kelly said: “It would just mean the world.

“I do my best to read her mind and to try and work out what’s wrong, but if she could say ‘mum, I’m hungry’ or thirsty or ‘I’ve got a pain’, it would be just like a miracle.”

Maddie, from Pudsey, was healthy until the age of one, but was diagnosed with Rett syndrome in 2010.

The rare genetic condition causes sufferers lose all the abilities they have developed.

Her mum added: “She’s such a lovely little girl,” Kelly added. “She thinks the same way we do but she can’t get the words out. Sometimes she gets frustrated and screams.”

A specialist computer system, the Tobii Eye Gaze, picks up movements from the retinas in the eyes, allowing users to make images on a screen move so they can eventually use it to spell words.

Maddie has tried a similar system at school and her mum said she squealed with excitement when she realised she was controlling the screen.

Now her family - including dad Simon and nine-year-old brother George - want to buy her a system, which could cost up to £11,000.

Kelly said: “We’ve come to terms with the fact that we’re never going to hear her speak.

“It’s awful but to think that the words are going to come from her brain, it would be amazing.

“It would be like a dream come true.”

To help raise the money, Kelly arranged for Maddie to have her long hair cut and her thick tresses donated to the Little Princess Trust, which makes real hair wigs for youngsters suffering from hair loss.

“I just thought it would be an amazing thing if we could help another child,” her mum added.

Sponsorship for Maddie has raised almost £600 so far, to donate log on to www.youcaring.com/other/sponsor-amazing-maddie-for-donating-her-hair-/198869.

WHAT IS RETT SYNDROME?

Rett syndrome affects around 1 in 12,000 girls - it is rarely seen in boys.

It is caused by a mutation on the X chromosome, which usually happens spontaneously and without any family links.

Symptoms are not usually apparent in young babies at first, but it is normally picked up when they fail to develop normally.

Sufferers lose the ability to feed themselves, walk or speak and many develop epilepsy, as Maddie has.

There is no cure and symptoms can be difficult to manage.

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