I dream of hearing daughter’s ‘voice’ for the first time

Kelly Laws with her daughter Maddie, 6. Picture by James Hardisty
Kelly Laws with her daughter Maddie, 6. Picture by James Hardisty
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A yorkshire mother 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, Leeds, 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, and using it to spell words.

Maddie has tried a similar system at her 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.

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.