Miracle Machine Gives 2-Year-Old Her Voice

Thursday, August 4th 2011, 10:44 pm
By: News 9

Dana Hertneky, News 9

BETHANY, Oklahoma -- Love them or hate them there's no denying that computers have changed our lives.

But perhaps no-one more so than a little 2-year-old girl who through a miracle machine has found her voice.

Sophia was born with a genetic muscular condition and needs a tracheotomy to breath. That means for a long time Sophia couldn't talk.

But now she can, with the help of what her therapists call her "device:" a computer that tracks Sophia's eye movements.

As she focuses on a picture, a computer voice made to sound like Sophia's might, says the word.

"When Sophia first realized she had some power in her communication she was pretty demanding," said Rachel Griffin, her speech therapist. "She would tell us if she didn't like something, if she didn't want to do something, the typical things a two year old would tell you which is great."

The device was designed for patients with ALS.

"We've never used an eye gage communication device with someone Sophia's age," said Griffin. "One day I thought I'll just try it and she flourished."

Sophia's therapists and nurses say the device helped her socially, medically, and developmentally.

"She is happier, she has more confidence," said Julie Hale-Lanmacher a pediatric nurse practitioner at the Children's Center.

"She doesn't throw as many temper tantrums because she doesn't get as frustrated when she can't communicate what she wants."

Now that the therapists at the Children's Center have seen that someone Sophia's age can be functional with the device they will try it with other children. They are trying to get a grant or donation to buy another device.