Thieves snatch speech impaired child's computer

Tiago's computer
Tiago's computer (Zingui). (Tiago's computer (Zingui))

A 10-year old handicapped boy named Tiago was given a new computer when thieves stole his old one from his home in Hoogvliet, Rotterdam. The boy used the expensive computer as a communication tool which his mother says "he can't go a day without".

Because the thief was in and out of the house very quickly, he could have mistaken the computer for an iPad, unknowing the importance of the device to Tiago. According to the boy’s mother, Tiago communicates through the machine, and it is something that cannot be missed in my boy’s day-to-day life. "My biggest fear is that the burglar threw the computer away after finding out that the machine would be useless to him", Tiego's mother Veronica tells the Algemeen Dagblad.

The ICT company for people with disabilities, rdgKompagne fitted Tiago with a brand new computer. Director Peter Ossenkoppele decided to do this for free the minute he heard, he tells the AD. "We know that the boy is stuck in his development if he has to say it without the computer. That's why it is important that he has a new one quickly."

The Zingui, which is the name of the device, is little Tiago’s voice. The machine says words as Tiago clicks on the matching symbols on the screen.

Veronica da Silva Santos Vieira (43), mother of Tiago – who originates from Cape Verde – was completely devastated. Tiago, who is not only speech-impaired, has limited motor skills, and goes to a special education school, cannot live without his computer.

A replacement unit is not something that is easily obtained. The unit price of the device is €20.000. Veronica says it took them nine months to get the device from their insurance provider. The family no longer has to worry about this now, as Tiago is being gifted with a new device on Monday.

The unwanted visit occurred on the night of Tuesday to Wednesday whilst Veronica, Tiago and his 13 year old sister were sleeping. Her Husband was out- station due to work obligations. ‘I suspect that my daughter heard something, but did not go down to have a look. '

It only became clear to Veronica that the speech-impaired computer and accompanying backpack were missing on Wednesday afternoon. "I did miss the device, but I thought Tiago might have left it at school or with his grandmother." Veronica checked in with the school and her mother, and only after her daughter returned from school, it became clear that the device went missing and that someone broke into our home. "I locked the door on Tuesday night, but I found out that my daughter unlocked it at night as she had to put her bike inside. She must have forgotten to relock the door."

Veronica and her husband are in search of an institution that could help Tiago with his speech problem. They have even gone to lengths of surveying different countries for any assistance but unfortunately without any positive results. This is one of the reasons that the Zingui is so important towards Tiago’s further development.

The police commented that this robbery was one conducted by a true coward, and requests all witnesses with any possible information to immediately inform the authorities. Veronica and her two children are enormously traumatised by the break-in.

"My daughter and I could not get any sleep on Wednesday night, that is how frightened we are. To be honest, I am still in shock. I have told Tiago that his computer went missing; so that he does not know that it was stolen. Things are already hard enough for the boy."