October 21, 2022

Supporting Siblings through Play

We met TeKoa (Koa for short) aged two and half years, his brother Kailon aged four years and their mum Madison in March. Koa had a traumatic birth at just 26 weeks. Koa spent his first six months in ICU and much of his first two years of life in and out of hospital. He now lives with a number of complex health issues including Bronchopulmonary dysplasia, severe oropharyngeal dysplasia and global development delay.

The whole family has been impacted by Koa’s very difficult start to life, complicated further by COVID-19, frequent hospitalisations and ongoing immune concerns that restricted his engagement with friends and family. Neither boy had experienced the early, typical socialisation with peers or building their own brotherly bonds. Play between the boys was not easy.

Our Play Specialist Sue set about developing individualised play plans for Koa and Kailon and introducing strategies for Madison showing how to use play to build routines the boys could understand and implement that also reinforced positive behaviours.

Over a series of play dates, the brothers enjoyed learning to play cooperatively, increase their communication skills and confidence around new adults. Sue introduced ‘social stories’ to support safe engagement in difficult topics for Kailon who had to learn to understand his brother’s complex needs and that mum sometimes has to spend time away with Koa.

Sue also introduced ‘Something’s Wrong’ charts that have helped the boy’s to improve their communication and to be able to better explain their feelings and emotions.

Madison has been very grateful for the support of Hannah’s House. “Sue has brought so many ideas and much happiness into our home. The boys have been able to play together and learn to share and enjoy each other’s company in a positive environment” she said.

“The sensory toys and equipment Hannah’s House provided are helping both boys, particularly with reducing their fears and anxiety.”

Our Playtime program, which includes structured and unstructured sessions supported by qualified staff, offers children with complex needs and disabilities like Koa a chance to engage in expressing, exploring and experimenting with toys, objects, music and art in a safe and supported space.

Watch TeKoa’s story below:

Video created by Crimson Sky Productions for Telethon 2022.