PARENTS

Boy Too Allergic For School Sends A ROBOT In His Place

04/10/2012 12:03 | Updated 22 May 2015
Boy too allergic for school sends a ROBOT in his place!Caters

A seven-year-old boy too poorly to go to school still attends every class - by sending a ROBOT in his place.

Devon Carrow-Sperduti answers teachers' questions and chats to classmates using a £3,000 interactive 'Roboswot'.

His face appears via webcam on the robot, which is linked to his home computer.

Potentially fatal allergies mean Devon must spend most of his life in isolation at home but it doesn't stop him joining in with classmates – five miles away.

The amazing technology, called the VGo robot, has an interactive screen allowing Devon to interact with his classmates at Winchester Elementary School in West Seneca, New York.

The robot has its own desk in the classroom and can volunteer to answer the teacher's questions with a flashing light, rather than Devon raising his hand.

His mum, Rene said: "The children don't call the machine the 'Vgo', it's just Devon. It is basically a virtual Devon. It helps him feel included, and realise that he still has to go to school the same as any other child.

"He's required to do everything every other kid does in the class. He doesn't get any special treatment, because he has to be treated just the same as everybody else."

She added: "Devon has so many allergies that can be fatal to him, many of them are airborne, and we just can't risk his life by letting him mix with other children.

"If my elder son, Dylan, occasionally has friends over to the house, they have to shower and scrub down like they've been exposed to radiation.

"I have to keep sets of clothes that I have washed and ironed that I have to ask guests to wear, to make sure Devon never comes into contact with his allergies.

"He has been in the intensive care unit three times after suffering near deadly reactions in the past and hospitalised countless times.

"I can't ask every child in a school to constantly scrub their hands, brush their teeth and use mouthwash in case they have come into contact with any nuts.

"It's not practical and it's not fair but I also don't think Devon should be denied the chance of a proper childhood, so the robot is the ideal solution."

The family hadn't heard of the VGo until local education bosses suggested the newly-developed technology as a possibility when Devon was due to start school this year.

The school's principal Kathleen Brachmann said: "There was no hesitation in us accepting Devon. A lot of people look at it as a challenge, we look at it as a great opportunity. We feel like it's an honour to have him here."

Devon was diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis disease, an allergic inflammatory response in the oesophagus, when he was just six months old along with anaphylactic shock syndrome, respiratory distress syndrome and asthma.

As well as being unable to go to school, Devon survives on a restricted diet, eating just corn, apple and potatoes.

His mum said:

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He's a walking time bomb. He also suffers from severe skin allergies. His hands get red and scaly easily. They become so irritated, sometimes the skin splits open and he can't pick up a pen to write. Even the smell of fabric softener can cause his throat to close.

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"He's almost like the boy in a bubble. I try to let him do some things. I want him to have the best life he can have."

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