AN Antrim family is appealing for assistance to help a teenage girl ‘find her voice’ with a specialist piece of technology.
Madilyn Melville from Birch Hill Park was born with West Syndrome, which is determined by three main characteristics: epilepsy, abnormal brain activity, and development delay.
Her motor skills are impaired and she is reliant on her parents and carers in all aspects of everyday life.
Mum Lynne explained: “Madilyn is wheelchair dependent and is non verbal although she has learnt a few words - ‘hiya’ being her favourite!
“Her general understanding is amazing, she just can’t communicate back properly.
“Madilyn is 16 years old and is the most happy, friendly and sociable girl you can meet, despite the problems she has endured over the years.
“Two years ago Madilyn underwent scoliosis surgery in London which left her very ill resulting in yet another condition called SMA syndrome.
“Despite all that, Madilyn is still smiling and we would like to make her smile even more by giving her the opportunity to make her own voice heard.”
The family hope this can be achieved with the purchase of an Eye Gaze, a specialised communication device which would enable Madilyn to communicate with others by solely using her eyes.
The operator looks at certain words or letters on a screen, which then translates to speech - meaning that the teenager can ask for assistance and communicate with her family, rather than them having to guess.
“This would enable Madilyn to finally have her say she can make choices, decisions and say whatever she feels which will give Madilyn a whole new world of independence.” said Lynne.
“Madilyn has had demonstrations through inclusive technology who agree that this is the next step forward.
“We always say that there’s a story behind Madilyns eyes and by getting this for Madilyn we might just find out.
“We would be very grateful for any donations no matter how small, we would also appreciate it if you could share Madilyns story to help us achieve our goal and give Madilyn a voice.”
Antrim charity Links2Pink has already kindly donated £1000 towards the £4000 goal, which is currently sitting at £2300.
The Antrim community has already assisted the family in the past by raising funds to help purchase a specially modified bed for Madilyn, who goes to Riverside School.
To donate, go to https://www.gofundme.