Koah and his brother Kaelan love spending time together; however, it isn’t always easy. Luckily, Satan’s Little Helper was on hand to help facilitate some brotherly bonding.
Spending quality time together as a family is so important to so many Kiwis that it’s easy to forget that, for some, it’s a rare treat.
Simple things such as exploring the great outdoors or playing a silly game together can be difficult and involve extensive planning and meticulous execution.
All four-year-old Koah Eakins wants to do is play with his brother “like all other brothers do”, says mum Kimberley.
Unfortunately for Koah, complications at birth left him with cerebral palsy. His motor range is limited, he can’t talk or walk, and he needs round-the-clock care from his parents.
“He’s basically like a newborn,” explains Kimberley. “Myself and his dad get up multiple times a night to look after him, so our sleep is always broken – which presents its own challenges during the day, as we’re both sleep deprived.”
Full of laughs
Koah might not be able to talk, but that doesn’t mean he can’t communicate. When he’s not laughing out loud at farts, he’s happy, smiling and trying his best to be part of the action.
His brother Kaelan does his best to involve him, says Kimberley.
“Kaelan is very inclusive in the way he plays with Koah and thinks outside of the box for ways they can hang out together.”
One activity they can all do together is gaming.
“We found it’s the best way the brothers can send time together without needing our help.”
Koah doesn’t have the hand mobility to use a traditional Xbox controller, but he is able to use one that’s been specially adapted.
Quality time activated
When Satan’s Little Helper heard how much an adaptive controller and joystick could help Koah, we jumped at the chance to help fund the purchase from Assistive Technology.
The adaptive controller uses pads to mimic the buttons on a traditional Xbox controller, while the joystick helps Koah control movement.
“It helps them do a typical, everyday activity together and so it normalises life a little bit. That’s important for everyone in the family, especially for Koah and Kaelan.”
Using a joystick also has practical benefits, adds Kimberley.
“It’s very similar to the joystick on his powerchair. He struggles to move backwards in his chair, because he isn’t comfortable bending his elbow and pulling it backwards, so this is like a secret driving school for Koah!”
At the moment, the boys play Minecraft together – “Koah runs around and Kaelan builds stuff”. It puts big smiles on everyone’s faces and Koah loves hearing his brother cheer him on.
“I know they want to do activities with each other like they see other families doing. The fact they can now is amazing.”