When we met Shay Murray a few years ago he was a typical 11 year old who absolutely adores video games. However, his condition means that it would soon be harder for him to use the controllers and do the thing he loves. When we met him at his local children's hospice, we were able to offer him the perfect solution, thanks to an innovation from Microsoft.
Shay lives with Pearson Syndrome, a rare condition caused by a DNA mutation. It affects many different parts of the body and can make sufferers often feel weak, tired and sick. Shay’s eyesight, hearing and memory are deteriorating, as is some of his organ function, and some days he is so tired that he can’t hold his gaming controller. This is heart-breaking for his family, as they recognise that gaming isn’t just a hobby for him. Shay’s Dad Alan says: “Video games have been fantastic for
Shay. They keep him believing he’s a normal kid; he wouldn’t be able to play football with friends in the backyard, but he can play Fifa. It lets him compete on the same level, even with his disability.”
Lifelites is passionate about the impact that video gaming can have on children and young people like Shay, so we work hard to provide the right technology to help them continue doing what they love. That’s why we were delighted when we were approached by Microsoft with their new product, the Xbox Adaptive Controller. The Xbox Adaptive Controller is designed specifically for those with disabilities and can be customised to suit the user. It can be connected to external controls which can be used more easily by those with impairments so it is perfect for children like Shay.
Alan said: “When he’s playing games, he escapes. He doesn’t know a lot about his condition, but he knows he’s different from other kids, and the games just take him away from it: he doesn’t think about his feeding tube and his medicines. However, we’ve started to notice him dropping the controller if he’s tired, which makes him frustrated. This new controller is perfect for him, and means he won’t lose that part of his life. We don’t have control of many things, but at least we can give him this.” The Adaptive Controller forms part of Lifelites’ Interactive Entertainment Hub, which we offer completely free of charge to every children’s hospice across the British Isles. This is a portable unit packed full of accessible gaming technology, including Virtual Reality and a whole host of games.
Simone Enefer-Doy, our chief executive, said: “Children and young people in hospices like Shay often find that their opportunities to join in with the world around them are limited by disabilities, but this shouldn’t be the case. Many of them feel isolated and find it difficult to develop social skills, but gaming can change this. It helps form valuable friendships, and gives them a sense of respite and relief from the challenges they face.
“This is why it is so important Lifelites is able to donate equipment like the Xbox Adaptive Controller which can be modified for individual users, to provide them with the best possible experience and the chance to control something for themselves.”
Read about the impact that gaming can have on the lives of life-limited and disabled children, told by the hospices who care for them.