Iowa teenager with rare for of epilepsy says first word

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DAVENPORT, IOWA (WHBF) – A 14-year-old boy from Iowa with a rare form of epilepsy said his first words during the pandemic.

After being diagnosed with Dravet syndrome, doctors told Tina McDermott that her son, Ryan, would never be able to walk or talk.

Dravet syndrome is a rare, drug-resistant form of epilepsy that causes frequent and prolonged seizures in infants. According to the Epilepsy Foundation, most children also develop varying degrees of developmental disabilities.

Despite the diagnosis, McDermott said she has continued to try and work with Ryan to get him to be able to speak.

After 10 weeks, Ryan said ‘momma.’

“Well I cried, a lot of people cried. I mean that’s all I ever wanted,” Tina said. “I’ve said it from, I don’t know how long, just they say he probably would never walk or talk. And I just said, ‘Gosh, I would just love him to say momma.’ I mean just to hear his voice and so yeah, I’ve shed a lot of tears.”

A speech therapist is helping Ryan learn more words. Next up – learning to say dad.

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