When autistic Tyler said 'Mama' I cried... now I hope he'll be able to say 'I love you'
When little Tyler Galloway said the word 'Mama' for the first time recently, it was a massive breakthrough.
Up until then, the autistic three-year-old, who also suffers from epilepsy and a rare eye condition, hadn't spoken a proper word, much to his family's distress.
But now, his mum, Lauren McGee, said she hopes it won't be long before her adorable son can tell her he loves her – just as much as she loves him.
And that's why the criminology graduate from Portrush has set up an appeal fund for the therapy he desperately needs for specialist treatment.
"When I first realised there was something wrong with Tyler, I was told there was nothing anyone could do," said the 24-year-old single mum.
"Then, in January, he started receiving Applied Behavioural Analysis therapy and his progress has been remarkable. It's a miracle.I have so much hope now.
"Last Monday he said Mama to me for the first time directly as a way of trying to get my attention and the tears just started streaming down my face. It means so much to me. There's still a long way to go, but I feel as though we're starting to have a real connection and I'm getting to know my only child for the first time."
Lauren, who juggles her studies for a Masters degree in law and caring for Tyler, told the Belfast Telegraph her fundraising target was £20,000.
"The treatment costs between £16,000 and £20,000 a year and I believe that would be enough money to change his life for ever," she said.
Currently, the blond, blue-eyed toddler, who was born on March 18, 2011, receives three £60 sessions a week with a specially-trained therapist at his Co Antrim home.
This is not funded by the NHS which is why his mother has established the Help Tyler Talk appeal to raise much-needed funds.
Lauren said local branches of Ulster Bank have organised some fundraising events, while she is planning to abseil down Belfast's Europa Hotel this weekend to boost the coffers.
There will also be a bungee jump fundraiser in the summer along with a number of other events.
Three-year-old Tyler Galloway was diagnosed with autism last November. He also suffers from epilepsy and a rare eye condition called Duane's Syndrome. He was unable to talk until he began receiving Applied Behaviour Analysis therapy four months ago. He has since made remarkable progress, according to his mother Lauren McGee (24), a criminology graduate from Portrush. She has set up the Help Tyler Talk appeal to raise money for the specialist therapy he needs because it is expensive and it doesn't get NHS funding in the UK. If you would like to help please visit justgiving.com/helptylertalk or facebook.com/helptylertalk.