12:30pm Monday 14th May 2012
“A MILLION thank yous would not be enough.”
That is the message from overjoyed mum Charlene now her little girl Lexie Cooper-Barnes who, disabled from birth and who had never spoken, has found her voice for the first time.
The five-year-old, who suffers from severe cerebral palsy, can now communicate with her mum, dad John and classmates thanks to a specialist eye recognition computer that lets her speak.
It comes less than one year after the family embarked on a mammoth fundraising drive with the help of Daily Echo readers to raise £20,000 for the life-changing technology similar to that used by Professor Stephen Hawking.
Speaking at her Eastleigh home, Charlene, 34, said: “To say we are absolutely overwhelmed is an understatement. People who have never met us, and probably never will meet us, have been so generous.
“It is difficult for me to find the words to say how grateful we are.
I don’t think ‘thank you’ covers it because now Lexie has a voice.”
Lexie can now use her eyes to choose phrases on the specialist computer which she uses to interact in lessons and make friends, like any other five-year-old. She will also be able to use the machine when she is older to access the Internet and email.
She has talked to her classmates at school in Hursley about her weekend activities and has asked her new friends questions.
Diagnosed at 11 months old the condition has left Lexie severely disabled in a wheelchair and unable to talk, but despite her physical problems doctors say she is unique because of how mentally able she is.
Charlene said: “As her parents we know what her noises and actions mean but others who don’t know her as well don’t understand what she is trying to say, so this is vital for her.
“She has so much going on inside her head, you can see it in her eyes, and this computer can now unlock that potential and make her life so much easier.
“She is unique because it is very rare for a child to be so physically disabled but so mentally able, which is extremely frustrating for her because she knows what she wants to say but couldn’t understand why people didn’t understand her.
“Seeing her use the laptop is amazing because for the first time she has a voice and it is a dream come true. This means she has her independence.
“We wanted her to be able to say things like ‘Mummy, I’m bored of shopping’, like other children would.
“I would absolutely love for her to say ‘I love you, Mum’.”
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