Thanks to a guardian an­gel, my daugh­ter can fi­nally talk to me

Irish Daily Mail - - News - By Katie O’Neill katie.o’

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

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