NBC 5's Pat Doney's Son Says First Words Using Eye-Gaze Device

Technology is giving a voice to people living with the most severe forms of cerebral palsy.

Eye-gaze tablets are designed to track the gaze of the eyes on a screen. By looking at control keys or cells displayed on the screen, a user can generate speech either by typing a message or selecting pre-programmed phrases.

The technology helped NBC 5's Pat Doney and his wife, Sheleena Doney, hear their 2-year-old son "speak" to them for the first time in his life.

This week, Pat posted a video on social media of Hudson telling Sheleena, 'I love you,' on her birthday.

"It's something you always want to hear, your son say, 'Mom' and 'Love you,' and I didn't know if I was ever going to hear him say that. So it was really special," Sheleena said.

Hudson has the most severe form of cerebral palsy, which is a group of disorders that impairs a person's ability to move.

In severe cases, it traps a child inside his or her own body and can make it impossible for that child to speak.

"However, it doesn't mean that child cannot communicate. It just means they have to find a different way to use their voice," said Dr. Jan Brunstrom-Hernandez, of 1 CP Place, a pediatric neurology and pediatric physical therapy center in Plano.

Brunstrom-Hernandez, herself, lives with cerebral palsy. She says eye-gaze technology has changed the lives of some of her patients by giving them independence.

A North Texas Doctor is quickly becoming the go-to specialist for treating Cerebral Palsy. Dr. Jan is giving families hope through medical knowledge and her personal experience.

"It gives you a chance to have a life like everybody else," she said. "This has changed his quality of life instantaneously. It's changed his chances for education, instantaneously."

"I've always told Pat that one day I want [Hudson] to go to regular school and go to prom and do all those things that normal kids do, so that's our goal," Sheleena said.

It's a goal that starts with just a few simple words.

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