Brodie is an intelligent and gorgeous 20 year old who loves life, family and friends.
Brodie has Cerebral Palsy and is stuck in a body that rarely does what she wants it to do. She cannot walk or talk.
Frustrating for her…You bet, but despite these limitations she is a very happy and engaging young lady.
Brodie has attended Kids Plus Program since it began over a decade ago.
One of our biggest achievements was working out a way she could nod yes and no. This was so liberating for her, to finally be able to communicate to others, make choices and have some influence over her life. But of course I wanted more, I dreamt of her speaking and having some independence and even more control of her own life.
Kids Plus suggested that an Eyegaze communication device might work for Brodie. We had her eyes tested and the specialist had his doubts Brodie would be able to control her eyes well enough to operate one. Kids Plus developed an eye exercise program that helped immensely.
With Kids Plus help we trialled numerous devices over a number of years and as technology advanced so did the options available to Brodie. However the cost of these devices stayed relatively the same at over $20,000. After years of saving and a DHS equipment grant we finally purchased a device just before Brodie turned 18.
It has changed our lives. Brodie is using it every day. It is hard work for her, but she is advancing every week with her communication. The device has become a collection of her life, with music, movies, photos, games and of course communication at the blink of an eye. In the future we hope that environmental controls will enable Brodie to control other things around the house, it is already able to operate her TV. Wow! The potential is extraordinary and Brodie is so proud of herself and eager to learn. She can now be heard in a crowded room.
Via the generosity of the community, Kids Plus Foundation now has an Eyegaze for children to trial.
Previously Kids Plus had to book a trial, wait several months and only have it for a week. What a difference this will make for children and families who can try this technology as early as possible and assess its potential to give them a voice and some exciting learning and play opportunities. I can only hope for the future that no child has to wait until they are 18 to be able to tell their parents they love them or they are bored with them.
Thank you Kids Plus for supporting us and persisting with us on this journey and most of all believing in Brodie.
Donna Shaw (Mum)