The newly engaged couple is suffering from the rare condition called Moebius syndrome, which causes paralysis of the cranial nerves, meaning sufferers cannot make any facial expressions.
Ironically, the disease brought Mr Barker, from Coventry and Ms Smith, from North Carolina, together, reports Metro UK.The couple found love after meeting on a social media site for people with Moebius syndrome, and after just four dates, they got engaged.
Ms Smith said, “At first, I would never have thought that I would ever fall in love with someone that was born with the same thing I was.“But I mean it’s not just the Moebius, we have a lot of other things in common too. It is so nice to have someone that understands me for me. I love his British accent. It makes me melt. It does. It just gives me chills.”
The couple, whose speech is also affected, have to be creative when expressing their feelings due to the fact they’re unable to smile.
Mr Barker added: “I can tell when Erin is happy because she always puts her head on one side and goes “ooh,” and I think although we can’t show facial expression, we know each other’s mannerisms, so when we’re upset or when we’re frustrated or whatever, there is a lot of nonverbal communication that goes on.
I think the eyes tell a lot too. Not just Alex, but my family and friends have always said that they can look in my eyes and I smile with my eyes, they know I am happy.