by JAKE WHITTENBERG / KING 5 News
Posted on July 22, 2010 at 2:35 PM
Updated today at 4:44 PM
* Thieves steal autistic boy's speaking device
EVERETT, Wash. – A East Coast company and an anonymous donor have stepped forward to help an autistic Bellingham boy regain his "voice" following a KING 5 story.
Sheamus Jones, 9, cannot speak because of his severe Autism. He mostly relies on a specialized speaking device, which works like a touch screen, to communicate with people around him. Sheamus would touch the pictures on the screen and it would speak for him.
In early July, that device was stolen out of the back of the family car.
"It took us months to finally get our hands on one," says Sean Jones, Sheamus' father. "Not to mention it was thousands of dollars. It was so devastating"
After KING 5 aired the story on July 14, the phone calls started pouring into our newsroom from people who wanted to help. A few people wanted to replace the stolen device with one they were no longer using.
Five days later, a package with no return address arrived on the Jones' doorstep.
"Someone actually replaced the device and didn't leave their name," says Sean. "I can't even tell the story without crying."
The company TOBII ATI out of Dedham, Mass., manufactured a new device specifically for Sheamus, even though the specific model was discontinued. Several KING 5 viewers also stepped forward, but their donations will likely be given to other autistic children who need them.
"You can tell Sheamus is appreciative," he says. "It's just good to know there are good people out there like this."
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