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Calgary teen with autism needs stolen device returned: ‘Imagine if someone took your voice’

Click to play video: '‘Imagine if someone took your voice and put it in a box and stole it’: Calgary teen with autism needs stolen iPad returned' ‘Imagine if someone took your voice and put it in a box and stole it’: Calgary teen with autism needs stolen iPad returned
WATCH: A Calgary family is desperate to get an invaluable device returned to them. Their son's sole form of communication – his iPad -- has disappeared and they are pleading with the public to help. Jill Croteau reports – May 29, 2019

A Calgary family is feeling helpless after their teenage son’s only means of communication has been taken from them.

The Oxobys were shopping at the northeast Costco late Tuesday afternoon when someone stole Charlie’s backpack.

The 19-year-old lives with severe autism and the iPad inside his backpack is filled with stored memories and personalized programming to help Charlie communicate.

Sample of communication program Charlie relies on.
Sample of communication program Charlie relies on. Oxoby Family

When his mom, Allison, realized it was gone, she panicked.

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“It’s his talker, as we call it. It’s a communication device that is everything to him and everything to me to understand him,” Allison said.

“Can you imagine if someone took your voice and put it in a box and stole it? I need his voice back.”

19-year-old Charlie Oxoby. Oxoby Family

The iPad isn’t worth much in terms of monetary value. It’s a third-generation device. But what it represents to the family is priceless.

Charlie’s dad, Rob Oxoby, said they’ve been compiling the information within the iPad over the past decade.

Screengrab of Charlie’s communication software.
Screengrab of Charlie’s communication software. Oxoby Family

“We can get another iPad but even for a day, imagine not being able to say what you feel or what you need for a day, that’s the importance of this,” Rob said.

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Some friends are going to check some city pawn shops hoping it turns up.

There are some identifiable features: a sticker is attached to the back of it and his picture is on the home page.

Photo of sticker on the stolen iPad.
Photo of sticker on the stolen iPad. Supplied

They’ve already been working on rebuilding a different device but worry how Charlie will be affected while he waits.

“It’s heartbreaking. When he’s looking for a way to say something and it’s gone. I need him to be happy,” Allison said.

The family has no judgement on the person who stole it and are just hoping he or she drops it off at the Costco or the University of Calgary campus where Charlie’s dad works. They can also reach out to him via email oxoby@ucalgary.ca

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