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MEET DOLPHIN BOY; Little Jamie learns 'to see' using click sounds like Flipper.

Byline: Kevin O'Sullivan

A BLIND boy has learned how "to see" - after being taught a language used by dolphins.

Jamie Aspland makes tiny high-pitch clicks that rebound off surfaces. He can then avoid obstacles in his path.

The four-year-old, who was born without sight, was taught the echo location technique as part of a revolutionary new breakthrough to help the blind.

After just three sessions of the therapy - pioneered in California - his mum Deborah said yesterday: "This has changed our lives.

"We can now walk to the park and Jamie no longer has to hold my hand."

The 39-year-old mum said she watched nervously after Jamie's first session when he headed towards a fence.

"He just went round it," said Deborah. "I didn't think it would be possible."

Jamie, from Ashford, Kent, has been working with US-based echo location guru Daniel Kish - who lost his sight when he was just 13 months.

As president of World Access for the Blind, Kish has developed bio-acoustics based on animal sonar to help humans form "mental maps" of their surroundings.

He copied the technique dolphins used to navigate - high-pitch clicks which reflect off objects.

Jamie is able to mirror that behaviour by flicking his tongue against the roof of his mouth.

Kish said: "Working with Jamie and his family was a terrific experience, and he was very responsive."

He explained that echo location, or flashsonar as he terms it, will eventually enable Jamie to detect buildings from a distance of more than 100 metres.

He said: "FlashSonar provides one with information of a fair amount of detail at distances of dozens of metres.

A tree may be detectable at 10 metres, while a large building may be recognised at 100 metres.

"It is literally like 'seeing' with dim flashes of light. Neural scientists believe that the same parts of the brain used in visual processing are also being deployed for flashsonar."


CLEVER: Dolphins PROGRESS: Mum Deborah is delighted after seeing Jamie walking without help
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 30, 2010
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