Surely that greeting, or most any variation, is music to every mother’s ear.
But the memory of James Walker saying “Hello Mum!” the first time at age 16 is sure to forever bring his mom Gina utter joy. She called it a “lightbulb moment” in this BBC interview.
"I don't think people realise how big a deal communication is. It's been a light bulb moment."
James greeted his mother using an I-12+ AAC device he had been using at Frederick Holmes School in Hull, England. Through a grassroots fundraising effort that followed shortly, James got a device of his own. As an extra nice surprise, organizers surpassed their goals and were able to purchase five more Tobii Dynavox devices for Frederick Holmes students.
“When they realize that they can communicate,” teacher Mike Bickerton said, “Suddenly they are going places we didn’t expect.”
Success means a lot to these kids, for it requires a certain brand of determination given their disabilities. For those who are non-verbal, having a way to express themselves lets them experience success on many levels, as James has.
“When they realize that they can communicate. Suddenly they are going places we didn’t expect.”
The source of James’ communication challenges is Lennox Gastaut syndrome, a rare seizure disorder he was diagnosed with in childhood. Now, with the I-12+, he can tell others how to help him and vent everyday frustrations. On the lighter side, James can randomly joke with others and freely bring up favorite subjects like pop music, rugby and girls. Above all, he can use his voice to make people like his mum happy.