Brain-damaged Girl Given Power of Speech

Elke Wisbey of Bearsted, Kent, England was born with brain damage. Now 6, she has never been able to walk, feed herself, or even communicate with her family -until now. A £17,000 MyTobii Smartbox machine tracks her eye movements with lasers and sends messages to a programmed voice that speaks for her. Elke took only a few days to learn how to use the machine, faster than her family members. Her parents noticed she was constantly looking at the "I love you" symbol.
Mrs. Wisbey, 43, who also has a son, Galahad, aged nine, said: 'I thought it was stuck and then I realised what she was saying.

'She was looking at the "I love you" icon and I couldn't believe it, she kept doing it.

'I said to Elke "are you telling Daddy you love him?" and she pointed at the icon "yes".

'It really choked me up, made me really emotional. I'm still emotional when I think about it.

'It was quite emotional. It is mind-blowing really. We have gone from somebody not being able to communicate to this.

'We didn't think Elke would ever be able to tell us how she was feeling, and now she can. This will be amazing for us, absolutely phenomenal.'

Readers of a local newspaper raised money to buy the specially-adapted machine for the family from Bearsted, Kent.

Elke has learned a number of words and phrases and can also use the machine to play games. Link -via Digg

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It's based on her eye movements. If it was just random, she could have answered her mother with something like "bagel"... not "yes".

I went to school with a girl who had to use eye movements to communicate. It is possible.
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I, too, was wondering if they had an icon for I Hate You. And Shecky has a point. They do the same type of experimental stuff with dolphins and lower primates. I wonder how far wishful thinking gets us.
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I hate to piss in everyone's cheerios, but this seems odd to me. How do they know the poor girl is actually capable of communicating and not simply responding to stimuli, or being interpreted as communicating? It reminds me a bit of the stuff about Facilitated Communication with autistic children from a while back.
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