Ten-year-old Hayden Te Papa is pushing his way towards greater independence, thanks to the support of Satan’s Little Helper and his loving family.
A lone survivor of twin-to-twin transfusion (T2T) syndrome*, Hayden has had to battle numerous health complications throughout his short life, including two strokes that made him quadriplegic before he was six.
Because of his paralysis, Hayden developed issues with his neck and throat which meant that he can’t speak properly and has to communicate through eye-point technology – an ongoing and difficult learning process.
Despite his tribulations, Hayden’s mother Samantha says he has an irrepressible personality that shines through.
“He’s a big smiler and never seems to let anything get him down. He loves seeing other people have fun, because he takes a lot of joy out of that,” says Samantha. “He’s a real water baby and he’s been surfing with the Disabled Surfing Association, which he absolutely loved. He places no limits on himself and is actually a bit of a daredevil!”
After hearing Hayden’s story, Satan’s Little Helper decided to help him reclaim some of his independence by equipping him with a Power Link 4 control unit and two Jelly Beamer switches. The set-up means that Hayden can control various electrical appliances around the family home at the touch of a button.
“A lot of it seems really basic, but even just being able to turn his own bedroom lights on and off gives him a lot more independence. He can also use the kitchen blender, so every afternoon he makes a fresh fruit smoothie for his little brother,” says Samantha. “We’ve also got some bulbs in our lamps that work like disco lights; he’s able to operate those too, so we’ve been having disco dance-offs together and now he’s decided it’s what he wants to do for his birthday!”
Samantha says Hayden’s teachers have also been very supportive and have encouraged him to bring in the button system to use in cookery class, meaning he will be able to take part with the other kids.
“We’re just very grateful to HELL. It’s been such a pleasure watching him enjoy himself and the best part is that we’ll be able to continue finding different uses for the system in the future.”
*T2T syndrome is caused by a number of random factors and can affect anyone. It is a disease of the placenta, which affects identical twin pregnancies, causing the common placenta to be shared unequally.