May 26

Imagine never really knowing what your child is feeling because he cannot speak. Then think of the moment that all changes.

Him not communicating with us is normal. We live with it. Its just part of what our life is like, said Tabitha LaBelle.

Her son, Isaiah, has cerebral palsy and what he can do is very limited.

But thanks to therapists at Gillette Childrens Hospital and his new buddy, Isaiahs life is about to dramatically change.

Its easy to tell what Isaiah LaBelle is feeling. But not what hes thinking. Thats just a dream a dream that has felt so out of reach all of Isaiahs life.

Cerebral Palsy keeps the 7-year-old in a wheelchair.

There was a lot of grief, there was a lot of grief surrounding that thought, his mother said.

Tabitha has accepted the fact her son will likely never walk. He was diagnosed when he was 1.

He clenched his fists a lot, she said. Even in pictures and stuff, you can see he kept his hands closed. He didnt reach for toys.

Isaiah can read and hear. He communicates with his body a nod means no. He uses his right arm to signal yes.

Theres a lot of days that Isaiah is incredibly frustrated, Tabitha said. We get a lot of tears, a lot of yelling from him, because hes just not able to convey what he wants to do, or if theres something wrong.

Isaiah is essentially trapped inside his body. But hes about to be freed free to express himself in a new way, thanks to Tobii.

Tobii is the key to unlocking whats inside Isaiah.

You bring in a device like this, it opens up a lot of doors, his mother said.

Tobii does the talking for Isaiah, verbally communicating what hes thinking.

Isaiahs therapist custom-designed Tobii with specific questions and answers. A small camera catches where Isaiahs eye is. A red dot shows what hes looking at.

Whatever he holds his eyes on for a few seconds tells the computer what he wants to say.

Isaiah is one of the only children in Minnesota whos using Tobii to communicate, and therapists hope as his communication skills grow, hell become more independent.

Its endless possibilities, Tabitha said. Its a priceless device.

Isaiahs excited, not frustrated, for the first time.

Theres a lot locked up in there that will be able to come out, said Janet Nelson, Isaiahs teacher.

His teachers know school is a struggle. Tobii will be an important teaching tool at Montrose Elementary School.

Ill be able to actually work more directly with him and involve him more in what were doing, rather than him sitting back and just observing, Nelson said.

A whole new world has opened up for this first grader. Family and friends hope to get the answers theyve long seeked, like Isaiahs favorite sports teams.

Were at the very beginning, and we dont even know how good it could be, Tabitha said.

Isaiah has so much to tell. Hell now be able to do it on his own a dream come true.

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