Thanks to a guardian angel, my daughter can finally talk to me
JESSICA Walsh had never been able to communicate with her loving mother – but that all changed this week thanks to an anonymous donor.
The non-verbal child, nine, was gifted a cutting-edge communication device controlled by eye movement.
And when Jessica did communicate, her mother Lynnmarie Walsh admitted: ‘I just couldn’t believe it.’
Jessica was diagnosed with Rett syndrome when she was a baby.
Just 52 people in Ireland suffer from the rare condition which robs her of the ability to walk, talk and feed herself. ‘She can take between 15-25 seizures a day, it could be every 15-20 minutes,’ Lynnmarie explained to the Irish Daily Mail last November. The single mother of two is Jessica’s full-time carer and was awarded Kildare Carer of the Year in 2016.
Last month, she went on RTÉ Radio 1’s Today with Seán O’Rourke to speak about Jessica’s condition. Speaking about her radio appearance, she said: ‘Seán asked what else we could be done for her [Jessica]. I said that there was a device called the Tobii eye-gazer. I said it’s a communication device... and at the moment I’m trying to do fundraisers for it. It’s between €20,000-€30,000.’
The interview was set up through Family Carers Ireland, who called Ms Walsh a few days later to inform her a listener offered to purchase the high-tech device that would enable her child to speak.
‘After that, I couldn’t find the words. I was in floods of tears, I fell to the ground,’ Ms Walsh said. ‘I went into the street, there was a man walking his dog. I said, “My daughter is after getting a Tobii eyegazer”. He looked at me as if to say, “This woman is off her rocker”.’
Ms Walsh described the donation as a ‘miracle’. She said: ‘In a way I’m sad that we can’t find out who this person is but I have emailed to tell them what it has done for my family. Their generosity has given my daughter a voice. That person is Jessica’s guardian angel.
‘The nine years I’ve been talking to Jessica, I didn’t know if Jessica could understand English, I didn’t know if she knew what I was saying. The first word out of her was “Elliot”, the name of her big brother and I just couldn’t believe it.’
The device – which has a screen that Jessica operates with her eye movement – has given her daughter opportunity, Ms Walsh said. She added: ‘When you have a child like Jessica and you’re told that they’ll never amount to anything – and then this device comes along and opens so many doors. With practice I’ll be able to have a full-blown conversation with her.’
‘I was in floods of tears and fell to the ground’
Miracle: Jessica Walsh with her mother Lynnmarie New hope: Jessica and Lynnmarie using the Tobii eye-gazer