Mom’s plea to give daughter with cerebral palsy a better chance in life

Ilse du Plessis. (Photo: Supplied)
Ilse du Plessis. (Photo: Supplied)

Talita du Plessis’ first pregnancy was a beautiful experience filled with all the usual and expected pregnancy milestones.

However, when the big day came, things took a turn for the worst.

“It was just one of those unfortunate days when things just go wrong from the start,” Talita tells YOU.

“I was in full labour when we got to the hospital, but the nurses were busy changing shifts, so not much attention was really given to us.”

Her newborn baby’s heart stopped beating and by the time a doctor arrived to attend to her, baby Ilse was no longer breathing.

“Unfortunately everything happened as she was born. She got the [brain] damage at birth basically. We’re just grateful she’s alive,” says the doting mom from Brackenfell in Cape Town. Talita and her husband also have a seven-year-old daughter, Leilane.

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Little Ilse has been diagnosed with mixed spastic-dystonic cerebral palsy – a disorder that causes involuntary muscle spasms and unwanted movement, according to The Dystonia Society.

“So what this condition basically means is that your muscles are tight and you struggle to move. What your brain tells you and what your hands do are two different things,” Talita explains.

“So with her, it affects her hands and the muscles in her legs as well. She can’t hold a cup like you and I can. She doesn’t walk but crawls and uses a wheelchair to get around.

“But other than that, she has the mind of an elephant – a very powerful brain and it’s just that her body doesn’t do what she wants it to do. That’s the problem of living with cerebral palsy.”

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Regardless of her condition, the now 10-year-old Ilse is a keen student at Paarl School and a real socialite who loves to explore other people’s interests. She also enjoys tagging along with her sister and horse-riding.

“She’ll sit for hours doing her homework. She likes maths and reading. She wants to be a teacher when she grows up. I think it all depends on what we manage to sort out for her,” Talita says.

On Sunday 28 June, Talita launched a Back-a-Buddy campaign to help raise funds to improve and nurture her child’s potential.

Talita wants to purchase the Tobii Eye Gaze unit from Edit Microsystems based in Cape Town. The unit needs accompanying equipment, including the Lenovo D330 IdeaPad and an N-Abler Joystick.

“It’s like a unit that you plug into your PC, you write and type with your eyes with the keyboard on your screen,” she explains.

Ilse du Plessis
Ilse du Plessis. (Photo: Supplied)

Currently, Ilse uses her hands to type, and the process is slow and strenuous for her tiny body.

“Her speed and accuracy aren’t good for the amount of work she needs to complete at school,” Talita explains. “This equipment will allow her to type faster and communicate well with others.

“So for school purposes and for her future that’s the better option for her – to learn to type and write with her eyes.”

Another learner at Ilse’s school has an eye-reader system and Talita and her husband have tested it out before making plans to purchase it for their daughter.

So far, friends and family have contributed just over R3 000 to the cause, but with a target set at R67 900, the family still has some distance to go.

“Any help will be greatly appreciated. It’s my first time trying Back-a-Buddy and I believe it’s going to be worth it – but it will take a while,” Talita says.

“If we can get this [equipment], then I know her future will be better and more advanced than it currently is.”

To find out more about the Ilse du Plessis initiative and to make a meaningful contribution, click on


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