New device helps 11-year-old 'speak' for the first time

Unable to talk, Maddie Belling’s eyes speak for her. The 11-year-old of Belle Plaine, Minn. cannot form words due to a rare disorder she was diagnosed with seven years ago called Rett Syndrome. 

“These little girls they're trapped in their body, said Maddie’s mother Angie Taxler. “I'd love to know what she thinks on a daily basis.”

Rett Syndrome is a rare neurodevelopmental disorder that almost exclusively affects girls and their ability to communicate.

“Everything is a guessing game with her so we all have a hard time dealing with that,” Taxler said.

Thursday a special delivery arrived at her house that Taxler hopes will make life easier for Maddie. It's called a Tobbi Dynavox  or "My Tobbi.” The $20,000 eye tracking device will soon be doing all the talking for Maddie.

“It's going to be a great life changing device,” said Maddie's Grandmother and personal care assistant Kim Taxler.

Four years ago Lindsey Kallstrom became the first girl in Minnesota to receive a My Tobbi.

“It just gives her a voice and some independence which is great,” Lindsey’s mother, Mary Kallstrom tells FOX 9.

Today, Lindsey merely looks at pictures on the device, and the device tells those around her what she wants to eat, do, watch and even helps engage others detailed in conversation.

“For dinner I had sweet potatoes and fruit, it was good, I was hungry!” Lindsey said.

The My Tobbi helps people living with Rett Syndrome better participate in the world around them.

“The girls are very intelligent they totally understand everything that's going on around them. They're just not able to communicate it so that's where the My Tobbi comes in and helps them…,” smiled Mary Kallstrom.

And like most Minnesotans, Lindsey couldn’t wait to talk about the home team.

“I'm excited for the Vikings game on Sunday I'm going to watch it with my brother my dad's going to the game, it's going to be a cold one!” Lindsey said.

Maddie and her family can’t wait for the positive changes they expect to come when Maddie can better communicate.

“She's not going to be as frustrated because she's going to get across to us what it is exactly she's thinking.” Maddie’s grandmother Kim said.

About 1,000 cases of Rett Syndrome are diagnosed each year. To help those living with the disorder a walk has been organized. For more information about the walk click here.