Device helps local boy say ‘I Love You’ to his parents

After more than a decade, Steve Asher and his wife, Cheyenne, finally heard their son say "I love you" out loud.

"The day he told us, ‘I love you,’ was just the best day in the world," says Cheyenne. "He always tried to make sounds to verbalize it, but he never really could get it out."

"First time I heard him say, ‘Dad, I love you,’ I cried," says Steve.

Ivan Asher, 11, was born with severe brain damage, diagnosed with Dandy-Walker Syndrome. He doesn’t move and he doesn’t talk but thanks to his Tobii Dynavox I-12 device, Ivan can now communicate what he’s really feeling. Lasers at the bottom of the screen track his eye movements. Ivan picks what he wants to say and the device talks for him.

"I was always under the notion that he was a lot younger mentally than it shows that he is," says Steve.

The device is helping strangers see Ivan as an 11-year old boy, not a disability in a wheelchair.

"A good portion of his life he was basically mute," says Steve. "It went from, ‘Ah this poor little boy in a bad situation and a high mortality rate,’ to going, ‘Oh, he is vibrant.’ It was very normalizing and humanizing for him."

Doctors said the device wouldn’t work for Ivan but they were wrong.

"There’s so much more inside people like him than they ever gave him credit for," says Cheyenne.

Ivan can do more with the device than just communicate, he can also paint pictures.

Cheyenne says insurance paid for the device, which costs around $15,000. It’s not new to the market but she says it’s one of the first in the area.

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