Thieves steal special-needs child's $7,000 tablet in Whittier

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A Whittier mom is hoping thieves who stole a $7,000 tablet her son with cerebral palsy uses to communicate with the world will return the electronic device.

A devastated Whittier mom is asking for the public's help after thieves broke into her car and stole a special tablet her son with cerebral palsy uses to communicate.

"Just return it. You don't have to be that kind of person that takes away from a special-needs child," Kristy Bernal said.

Her 10-year-old son, Zackary, was born with cerebral palsy and can't speak. Since October, he's been able to communicate with his family through a special device which allows him to use his eyes to speak.

"He gets to be like his brothers," Bernal said while fighting back tears.

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The special tablet has software programmed specifically for Zackary's needs, bringing its total cost to about $7,000.

"He was having tantrums, frustration when he couldn't let us know what he was trying to say. Now, he's adding, he's subtracting, he's reading, he's doing sight words. He's even texting us through Skype now," Bernal said.

On Monday morning, Bernal was about to take the kids to school when they noticed all of the doors on her suburban were open.

Her car had been ransacked and the life-changing tablet had been stolen.

"I could not breathe. I could not believe it. I felt guilt. I felt so angry at myself. I take it out of the car all the time, and that one day I didn't take it out of the car. It killed me inside," Bernal said.

Since the burglary, the Bernal family has had to resort to frustrating guessing games.

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"We have to guess a hundred things to figure out what he wants to tell us. With the device, he says three things and we know right away," Bernal said.

Now all they want is to continue Zackary's progress with the tablet and want it returned -- no questions asked.

The Bernal family has set up a GoFundMe account to try and raise money to replace the tablet. You can donate here: If it's returned, the Bernal family says they'll return the money.

A viewer alerted KABC to this story by posting it on the ABC7 Facebook page.
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