Toby and Harry
Toby and Harry’s story is a perfect example of why we do what we do.
Toby started attending our child gaming sessions at the end of 2018, along with his younger brother, Harry, after Toby’s mother had learnt of our sessions from his Occupational Therapist. Toby was just 5 years old and at the younger-end of those in our gaming community. To further challenge matters, Toby also has a severe form of cerebral palsy that prevents him from walking, talking and having the dexterity needed to use a standard games controller.
Straight away we assessed Toby, using an array of alternative devices to get him gaming. He started off using just one button and a joystick to play games that can be played using these simplified controls. These games were the first interactive games he’d ever played!
Extra support is always on hand
Four years on, 9-year-old Toby is still using a single joystick, but is now able to use up to 4 buttons placed both in front of him and around his head. This has dramatically increased the number of games that he can play independently.
We are also able to increase the range of games even further by having one of our volunteers supporting Toby, by using an accessibility option called Co-Pilot. Co-Pilot enables a second controller to aid the same gamer.
Friendship is one of the cornerstones of our gaming sessions, friendships that span across divides, such as the divide between disabled children and children that have no disability. Our ultimate aim was for Toby to become a full participant in our sessions, where he can join in, playing games with the dozens of children, we have at each of our sessions. That aim has now been met.
Toby’s brother Harry was nearly 3 when he started coming to the gaming sessions. Although Harry has no disability, he was slightly too young to understand the concepts of many of the games, but loved to hang out in our sensory room and watch others play.
Harry is now 6 years old and enjoys playing with the other children on games such as Minecraft. He also plays along with his brother Toby, although Toby doesn’t hold back when he often beats his brother, when playing Power Rangers.
What else is out there for Toby?
On a practical level, Toby’s mother doesn’t have to find 2 activities for her two sons, one that caters for Toby’s level of disability and one that is of interest to Harry. Both brothers love to play video games and we can adapt technology for Toby, so both can play.
The only other activity that Toby’s mother has been able to find is at a trampolining centre, 12 miles away from his home. Where they use a specialist hoist to take Toby out of his wheelchair and this enables him to bounce up and down. This is the best on offer for a local population of nearly 3 million people!
We work with Toby every week, to improve his access and as his ability improves this enables us to introduce more games. His mother also mirrors the equipment he uses and the games he plays in the centre, at home. Having unlimited access to our service promotes regular improvements and the ability to carry this across to playing at home