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Stephen Hawking's Disability

Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with ALS in 1963 (a few years after his 21st birthday).ALS is a condition that, over time, can easily cripple the body and most of the motor skills. Doctors diagnosed his condition by injecting him with a special radio fluid, and took many x-rays to find out what the problem was.He was happy that he didn't have MS(multiple sclerosis). Back then, there was no medicine for MS. He was able to slightly take care of himself, up until 1974. After that, he needed help with a wheelchair. He also needed private nurses to help him(they came in and out of his house.) Until he caught pneumonia in 1985. After that, he needed 24-hour nursing care. One of his colleagues, David Mason, helped develop a voice synthesizer to help him speak his lectures. It took a while to type in the words, and make a phrase or sentence. Then he entered it into the computer, and it projected the phrase so people could hear his lectures. 15 words a minute was a very good typing pace for someone with his disease, instead of checking letters off of a card, and spelling word for word for each phrase and sentence. In an interview, he says that his disease hasn't held him back very far. He is happy because he has a family who loves him, and gives him support with his crippling disease.

Disease Names

Stephen Hawking & ALS Websites

Stephen Hawking' Site
Stephen Hawking's PBS Site
Motor Neurone Disease Association Site