Toddler enters rehab as parents maintain vigil

CALEB HARRIS
Last updated 05:00 19/03/2014
caleb skinner

RECOVERING: Caleb Skinner

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A toddler badly hurt in an alleged assault will today make his latest step towards recovery, while his older brother pines for his return.

Caleb Skinner, 2, is expected to move to a specialist children's rehabilitation unit in Takapuna today after spending more than two weeks in Auckland's Starship children's hospital recovering from a serious head injury.

Doctors have not yet been able to say how much brain damage Caleb suffered, but he is now eating unaided and is ready to start rehabilitation, supported by parents Jo Smith and Daryll Skinner.

"That's a big move for them," said family spokesman Trevor Mackiewicz, of independent charitable trust Wairarapa Advocate Service.

"He's pottering along like a normal child would, he stutters a lot but . . . he is smiling, giggling a bit more."

But his 10-year-old brother, being cared for by his aunt, was struggling without him. "He's pining for them - it is hard on him, he's going through a lot as well."

Caleb was not breathing when ambulance staff arrived at his home on March 3. After being resuscitated he was flown to Starship, where he has been recovering with his parents at his bedside.

Police have said a man arrested for assaulting Caleb in his home in George St, Masterton, is not a blood relative.

Mr Mackiewicz said Caleb's parents, who are separated, had had an initial meeting with the person who would work with him at the Wilson Centre for Children's rehabilitation service in Takapuna.

Meanwhile, Mr Skinner's job has been kept open for him, but Ms Smith has had to give up her place at Carterton's Premier Beehive bacon plant to focus on Caleb's recovery, which could take months.

Two appeals have been set up to support the family.

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- The Dominion Post

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